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Proofreading an Academic Paper: a Few useful Prompts

Proofreading your academic paper, is not always referred to as the best way to edit your paper, but it is necessary. Usually this is not the only way, to edit a paper the student wrote, but it is at least one of the important steps. Yes, every student needs to edit and proof their own paper, even if they are going to have someone else do it. Here are a few prompts on doing just that.

  1. Wait
  2. Print Out
  3. Think as your Audience
  4. Try different Orders


Always make sure you have time to turn in your work, because it is never done on the first try. After it is done, wait a day or two, before reading it. This gives the student time to clear their mind, and think objectively. Trying to read it too soon, and they do not see errors they would if they had waited.

Print Out

Yes, do not read it off the computer, print it out. Leave the page open, then go somewhere else to sit, and relax, then read it. Keep a pencil close by to mark any errors that are seen, so you can come back, on the computer and make corrections. With your mind clear, and relaxed, as you read it, it will surprise you on how many errors you will find, over sitting at the computer.

Think as your Audience

Even though reading the paper is important, think of what your audience will be looking for. Try to think as they would reading your paper. This should increase the ability to see more issues, even if they are not an error, but how you might reword something so they would better understand it. Often when we write, in our minds everything sounds good, but then someone else reads it, and cannot understand as clearly as we can what is being said. Trying to think as your audience, helps in finding these issues much better.

Try Different Orders

It is not that the way we have things laid out is wrong, but sometimes it is just not an effective way. When you get everything so it sounds good, and the corrections are made, make a new printout, and try mixing some points, and see if moving them around works more effectively. If they do, use your pencil, to redirect where the moves will be, and then go back to the computer, and move them around accordingly.

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