Once you have finished writing an essay, it is easy to never want to see it again. However, proofreading is a vital part of essay writing when entering a competition!
Your essay may be the clever, creative and interesting, however if the spelling, grammar and structure are poor, you could miss out on the prize you deserve.
As students ourselves, the digital comms team for RCS Wales have written our personal Top Tips for proofreading…
- Take a Break.Taking a break from your essay – maybe a few hours, maybe even a few days! – and then re-read. When your mind has had a break from an essay it is more likely to notice small errors.
- Use Ctrl+F.Ctrl+F is an easy way to search on a computer. Look for key things you may have missed – e.g., if you always spell a word wrong. An example would be spelling Commonwealth ‘Comonwealth‘. Using Ctrl+F, search for ‘Comonwealth‘ to find every occasion where you have spelled it wrong! It is also a good idea for search for apostrophes (‘), to ensure you have not used words like “can’t” or “don’t“.
- Print it out.Reading an essay printed out is a very different experience to on screen, so your eyes may notice mistakes you did not notice before. This is also a great way to access how the structure looks. Is the font strange, the size too small, or are the margins too big? Printing the essay out will ensure your entry looks best when it is being judged.
- Read your essay out loud.Attempting to read your essay out loud means that your mind is busier, and therefore is more likely to struggle when coming across something spelled incorrectly. While our eyes can skate past grammatical and spelling errors, trying to pronounce these is difficult, making mistakes easier to notice.
- Use Spellcheck.Computers offer spellcheck and grammar check, which we do not use enough! Check every word that is underlined in red, green or blue, even if you are certain it is right. Often, Microsoft Word is just suggesting that you re-order a sentence to make it read better.
- Ask someone else to read it.After spending so long writing, we often struggle to find our own mistakes. Asking a fresh set of eyes to assess your work will really help, and they can offer suggestions for improvement.
If you are struggling with your grammar or spelling, there are some great tutorials available on YouTube – here is one of our favourites!