Proofreading: best strategies

Proofreading may seem like a tedious task, especially for English and literature students who often find themselves immersed in essay writing. However, it’s an indispensable part of the writing process, particularly when crafting CVs and cover letters where impeccable grammar is crucial. Here are some effective strategies:

  1. Proofread Methodically:
    Proofreading demands meticulous attention, so it’s wise to focus on one type of error at a time. Trying to tackle all errors at once can lead to oversight. Separate sessions for spelling and punctuation can enhance accuracy and efficiency.

  2. Avoid Reliaying on Grammar Checkers:
    While spell checkers serve as initial aids in catching high-level errors, they are not foolproof. They often miss common grammatical mistakes and may even suggest incorrect corrections. Remember, they only flag misspelled words, not grammatically incorrect ones.

  3. Break Text into Digestible Portions:
    Dividing text into manageable sections aids concentration, especially for lengthy documents like theses or research papers. After proofreading each section, taking breaks refreshes focus and prevents overwhelm.

  4. Read Aloud:
    Professional proofreaders often read text aloud to engage auditory senses. This method helps in capturing how the text sounds and ensures each word is scrutinized. Reading slowly prevents skipping words and unconscious corrections.

  5. Circle Punctuation Marks:
    Although seemingly meticulous, circling punctuation marks is an effective technique for spotting punctuation errors. This approach forces careful examination of each mark, questioning its correctness.

  6. Read Backwards:
    Reading text backward or sentence by sentence helps identify spelling mistakes by isolating each word. Focusing solely on spelling without regard to grammar or punctuation enhances accuracy in spotting errors.

  7. Note Common Errors:
    Regular proofreading reveals patterns in mistakes, allowing students to identify and address weaknesses. Keeping style guides and grammar rules handy aids in clarifying uncertainties and improving writing skills over time.

By adopting these tailored proofreading strategies, students can ensure their essays, CVs, and cover letters showcase not only their content but also their meticulous attention to grammar and clarity.


these are great tips. i would also mention proofreading a few hours after you finish your essay.
When you proofread immediately after writing, you might be more prone to seeing what you intended to write rather than what is actually on the page. A short break helps in more effective error detection. It also gives you a fresh perspective when you return to your essay!


Totally agree! It’s so much more difficult to notice errors after you’ve been staring at the same piece of paper for hours😅


I believe it’s also helpful to have somebody else read the essay/cv or content to pick out errors that you could’ve missed.