Proofreading is the last step before you submit your paper4. Even when you have extensively revised and edited your text, you need to go over it one last time as errors might have come up during the editing process4. Proofreading is a final check where you deal with your text on the smallest scale: you look at your text line by line to spot any mistakes before submitting the assignment4, 11.
When you are proofreading, you check your final text for4, 10:
- Accuracy: Are all the facts you presented correct?
- Inconsistencies: This counts for spelling (g. UK vs US English, or using hyphened vs spaced vs collated words), capitalizations, formatting, in-text citation of references, writing Latin words and abbreviations (e.g./ i.e.) in italics, (un)necessary spaces between words as well as between values and their units etc. Remember to also check whether you have explained your abbreviations prior to using them throughout your text (once you introduce them, continue to use them!).
- Language: Did you make any grammar or spelling errors? Did you use a correct scientific writing style?
- References: e.g. Are all sources you used referred to correctly? Is the reference list complete? Did you use the same reference style throughout the document?
- Layout: Is your layout clear and clean? Are all the paragraphs separated in a similar way?
- Make a list of what to look for10. You can list mistakes you are aware you often make, also from previous assessments. You may also use the rubrics of the assignment.
- Use the search function in MS Word to check your document for errors you encounter that may occur more often10.
- Start proofreading from the end of your text. This way, you focus on the sentences rather than the bigger ideas of the text10.
- Ask a friend to read over your text when you have finished proofreading yourself. They may spot mistakes you overlooked.
- Temporarily change the font and font size of the document. This will often make it feel like you’re reading your document for the first time, and errors you previously missed can be spotted more easily. Similarly, reading a printed version of your document can help with this (but printing repeatedly isn’t exactly environmentally friendly)