Proofreading is the final stage in the composing process. It should be done after you have typed or copied over what you consider your final paper. To proofread well, you must be critical and stay alert; accurate proofreading is easier if you can let the paper sit for a day, or at least a few hours, after editing. If you are typing your final draft, proofread each page before you remove it from the typewriter; that way, if you need to make corrections, the page will be correctly aligned. If you are using word processing, proofread a printed copy of your paper. Make the necessary corrections on the paper copy, and then enter them on the computer and print your final version.
Proofreading should include rechecking all punctuation—commas, periods, semicolons, and especially omitted closing parentheses and quotation marks. Recheck any abbreviations, as well as any numbers and symbols.
Look again for proper and consistent use of capital letters and italics (or underlining).
Finally, recheck all spelling, either with a dictionary or by using your word processors spelling checker. If you are using the former, you can sometimes find errors by reading your paper aloud or by reading it backward, word by word, to spot spelling and typographical errors. If you are using the spelling checker, keep in mind that it will not recognize words that are spelled correctly even if they are the wrong words (for example, to for too), nor will it be able to check some proper names. So be sure to double-check the final copy. Remember that, ultimately, you are responsible for your own writing.
When you have completed your proofreading, if your instructor accepts handwritten corrections and your corrections are neatly written and amount to no more than a few on each page, you are ready to hand in your paper. Otherwise, recopy, retype, or print out a clean copy that incorporates your corrections. Be sure to observe the appropriate manuscript form.
SPELLING TIPS FOR PROOFREADING
• Use the dictionary. Is it privilege’ or privilege, gauge or guage, friend or /reind? Is a compound word written as one word or two words, or is it hyphenated?
• Watch closely for omissions of -ed or -s.
• Make a list of pairs of words you tend to confuse – for instance, affect/effect and
advice/advise —and quickly review it before you proofread.
• Mentally repeat each syllable of long words with many vowels, such as evacuation. responsibilities, continuously, individual.
• Be careful with double letters. They are hard to remember in words such as accommodation and occurrence.
• Remember that supersede is the only word in English ending in -sede and that succeed, proceed, and exceed are the only ones ending in -ceed. And others (recede, precede, and the like) end in -cede.
• Be careful with silent letters: rhythm, rendezvous, malign.