Consider these helpful tips from CTL’s Writing Specialist Susan Hess when helping students learn how to proofread their own papers!
Guideline #1. Proofread backwards—begin at the final page and final paragraph, proofread it, and then move up to the next paragraph (this keeps you focused on errors by breaking your excessive familiarity with the text), and so on, until you hit page 1.
Guideline #2. Proof for one feature at a time—check your subheads only, or your Works Cited list only, or scan through for punctuation only or only the dates, etc.
Guideline #3. Take breaks—don’t proofread for more than 20 minutes without taking a 2 minute break.
Guideline #4. Use the “Find” function—this feature of your word processing software usually shows up under “Edit.” It helps you check for common errors, like “it’s” vs. “its.”
Guideline #5. Proofread on paper when possible.
Guideline #6. Believe in your own fallibility—I’ve been writing papers for 30 years, and I still kid myself that I type without error. Not.