Tips when proofreading and editing your work

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Ask someone else to look at your work

  1. Another person should check and edit your work.
  2. You should not check your own work because:
    • you are too familiar with what you wrote. You might miss small mistakes.
    • you will be less critical.
    • you may be too tired.

If you have to do it yourself:

  1. Leave it for a day
    • Come back to it after a day or two.
    • This will help you see your work with fresh eyes.
  2. Focus on one aspect.
    • Check your work several times.
    • Check on one aspect each time.
    • For example:
      • look for grammar mistakes first;
      • then check your choice of words;
      • then check spelling;
      • then punctuation.
  3. Spell check and other tools
    • Microsoft Word marks possible errors.
      • it can spell check
      • suggest words
      • words or phrases are underlined in blue, green, or red
    • Spell check is not enough. It will not tell you if you used the right word or not.
    • Look at the word choice first. Then check spelling.
    • Check spelling manually. Start from the last word in your document. Check from right to left.
    • Hear the text aloud.
    • Measure readability (for essays or longer works). Use the Gunning Fog Index.
      • Readability is how easily a reader can understand your work.
      • A fog index of less than 12 is good for a wide audience.
      • 12 to 14 is good for professional texts.
      • The Hemingway app is another good tool.

  4. Look for common errors
    • Common mistakes:
      • “their” instead of “they’re”
      • “your” instead of “you’re”
      • “its” instead of “it’s”
      • Check prepositions (in, on, at, etc.).
    • Double check:
      • facts and figures
      • proper names
      • direct quotes
      • citations
    • Write your sources for quotes and adapted information. It shows that:
      • your work is well-researched
      • you are acknowledging the source
      • you do not intend to plagiarize. “Plagiarizing” means copying another person’s work.

    Avoiding Plagiarism from


  5. Check repeated words and sentences.
    • Delete repeated sentences.
    • Don’t use the same word again and again unless it is a technical term.
      • Use a dictionary or thesaurus to replace repeated words.
      • Check if the meaning of the sentence is the same.
      • Otherwise, rewriting the sentence may be needed.
  6. Check for consistency
    • Check your format and fonts.
    • See if you are using the same type (font), size, spacing, style of writing, and even point-of-view.
    • This will make your work easier to read and understand.

Article updated April 28, 2023.

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