Proofreading is the last step in the writing process. It is a very important step since it is the final check of your writing for both meaning (what you want to say) and mechanics (the way you say it). Two important points will help you in proofreading:

1.    Read your paper aloud very slowly, and listen to the sound of your writing.

2.    Individualize your proofreading based on your own writing problems.

Read Aloud for Meaning

Listen to the sound of your writing and ask yourself these questions:

1.    Does my paper have a MAIN IDEA that is clearly expressed?

2.    Is this main idea expressed as part of an INTRODUCTION to my paper?

3.    Is this main idea developed through PARAGRAPHS that have TOPIC SENTENCES and SUPPORTING DATA?

4.    Does my paper have TRANSITIONS that hook the paragraphs smoothly together and that hold individual paragraphs together?

5.    Does my paper have a CONCLUSION that summarizes the ideas presented in my paper?

Read Aloud to Correct Writing Mechanics

Read your paper aloud slowly and use your sound sense to help you find those kinds of writing errors that you frequently make. Keep a list of your own trouble spots in writing. Like a murderer who returns to the scene of a crime, a writer often tends to make the same errors on every paper. Know yourself; be aware of your own writing problems and learn to proofread specifically for those errors.

1.    Let your sound sense help you correct PUNCTUATION errors; listen for the pauses in your writing as you read aloud. Remember, punctuation helps to create the sound and rhythm of your writing, so concentrate on listening for punctuation that you may have omitted or unnecessary punctuation that you may have added. Punctuate: a) CLARITY b) to make reading CONVENIENT c) to observe CONVENTIONAL usage.

2.    Proofread aloud slowly, one sentence at a time, and correct SENTENCE STRUCTURE errors. Listen to the sentence and determine whether it is a complete sentence. A sentence fragment sounds incomplete; it sounds unfinished or "left hanging in the air." A run-on sentence often sounds rambling and "too much" to be read aloud as one sentence. Make sure that each sentence is both clear and complete.

F.D. Jones