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Better Essay Writing Through Proofreading

written by: •edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 2/14/2013

Don't turn your paper in until you have checked for these common errors. Let these tips on proofreading improve your essay writing!

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    Format and Organization

    Proofreading is one of the most important parts of essay writing. Avoid common essay pitfalls by catching your mistakes before you turn them in.

    Begin by checking the format/organization of your essay. Poor organization can hurt a good paper.

    • Do you have the correct/minimum number of words and paragraphs for the assignment?
    • Are the spacing, margins, font, and footnoting style in accord with the instructions?
    • Does the essay have a title?
    • Does each paragraph have a clear topic?
    • Does each paragraph begin with a topic sentence and end with a concluding/linking sentence?
    • Are each of the topics discussed in logical order?
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    Mechanics

    Next proofread your essay for good grammar and sentence structure. Unclear sentences and poor grammar detract from the presentation of your ideas.

    • Are there any run-on sentences or sentence fragments?
    • Does every sentence make sense when read aloud?
    • Does each sentence begin with a capital letter and end with the correct punctuation mark?
    • Are there any slang words, double negatives, or misspellings?
    • Is the verb tense the same throughout the essay?

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    Content

    You should also check the content of the essay. You want to be sure that your paper says what you meant it to say and says it authoritatively.

    • Are the points you make backed up with examples, relevant quotations, etc.?
    • Are all quotations accompanied by your explanation/analysis?
    • Does your essay clearly address all the points asked for in the assignment?
    • Does your essay stay focused on the assigned/chosen topic?
    • Does your essay have a thesis statement (a clear statement of your main point)?
    • Has all material from outside sources (quotations, sentence structure, ideas, etc.) been properly cited?

    Essay writing is a challenge and you don't want to lose points for avoidable errors. That's why proofreading is an essential step in the writing process.