What Are the Most Common Errors When Proofreading an Essay?

Reference & EducationCollege & University

  • Author Emma Jones
  • Published March 30, 2020
  • Word count 413

Writing an essay can already be a daunting task for new and seasoned writers alike. After hours of research, you have now finally managed to put together a final draft and are about to submit it. Suddenly, you are overcome with a feeling of dread as you realize that you still have to give the draft a final read-through to spot any mistakes that might have slipped through during the writing process.

Already pressed for time, you are probably wondering how to most effectively tackle this stage to make sure that your writing is in great shape.

Some errors are more common than others and avoiding them is easy with a bit of discipline. Even better, this is a skill that any writer can develop over time - it only takes a bit of practice!

In my experience as an academic and scientific editor working with students and researchers from leading global institutions, I can say that I have seen certain errors occur repeatedly during the proofreading process. The list below offers a brief summary of each and tips on how to avoid them:

Not referencing your essay correctly - if your institution provides you with a style sheet, please read it and do your best to follow its guidelines. This saves you not only marks but also helps avoid plagiarism in your writing.

Repetition or contradictory statements - this one is a bit tricky as it takes a lot of focus spotting paragraphs that are either a repetition of your thoughts or contradict what has been claimed before.

Proofreading your work immediately after writing it - you'd be surprised how much more effective a fresh pair of eyes could be! Time permitting, always give your work a second read after a day or two. Familiarity breeds blindness and this could not be truer.

Not checking if your essay actually addresses the question - this one might be obvious, but focusing too much on spelling and punctuation could easily distract you from also reviewing the content itself overall.

Not printing your work on paper - you are more likely to spot mistakes reading your essay on paper rather than only working on a computer screen. Extra tip for the more meticulous among you: as old-fashioned as it might sound, using a ruler below every line when checking it can do wonders as it separates it from the rest of the text making errors even more obvious.

Good luck to all writers out there!

At Scienture, our ultimate aim is to help authors extend the reach of their publications by bridging the language gap between authors, their peers and the global scientific community. We continually invest in our authors and help them become better researchers and writers over time.


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