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Paper proofreading tips: spotting common grammar errors


Proofreading your paper improves readability of written content. This also improves overall presentation and ensures your content is understood clearly by readers. Self-proofreading has its challenges when you are not sure what to look for. Your skills get better overtime as you take the time to catch errors and understand problem areas. In order to successfully proofread your paper there are a few things you can do before, during and after the process that will help you spot common errors. The following points will help you get started.


  • - Do your proofreading with your work printed on paper instead of off the computer screen.

  • You are able to catch more errors with fewer glares. This is important if you have been working on your paper for an extended time period on the computer. Small items such as commas, periods and even misspelled words may be easier to catch.


  • - Give your eyes a break before you start.

  • The longer you are able to wait the better. This helps your eyes be capable of catching errors. Some find it helpful to wait a few hours or until the next day. You not only give your eyes a break but your mind is able to gravitate content more clearly to ensure information makes sense.


  • - Review grammar errors and mistakes you should look for before you get started.

  • You should have a checklist of errors to use against your paper. For instance, you will want to look for words that are misspelled and misused. Misused words may need the help of a dictionary or thesaurus to ensure it is used correctly in the sentence. Examples include “their” and “they’re” or “lay” and “lie.” Another commonly misunderstood set of terms include “who” and “whom.”


  • - Check sentence structure.

  • This may involve different elements such as comma use, dangling modifiers and sentence fragments. Your sentences should not be too lengthy or wordy. You will also check usage of pronouns and overall voice for your content.


  • - Have someone else read your paper.

  • There are times errors can be caught by another set of eyes. You can work with a professional proofreader or get insight from a colleague. It helps to have someone with experience in proofreading content to help you spot errors efficiently. They can make suggestions on changes to complete that will benefit your paper.

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