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Proofreading your work helps you to produce more polished writing with fewer grammatical and structural errors

5 things you need to know...

Proofreading takes time, so ensure you leave sufficient time to do it.

Proofreading is the process of detailed checking for mistakes and weak areas in your writing.  It can be difficult to identify errors and problems in your own work; it is therefore important to have an effective proofreading strategy.  This process is also likely to be more effective if you can take a break between finishing your work and proofreading it.  

1 Check for grammar, spelling, punctuation and typing  errors, as well as missing words: do not simply rely on a spell checker, for example.  Go through your work one sentence at a time, reading slowly and precisely to give yourself a better chance of noticing any mistakes.

2 Proofread for clarity and structure: read your work a sentence at a time, and then a paragraph at a time. Would it make sense to someone else? Does it make sense to you? Does it flow logically from one point to another? 

3 Some people find it easier to proofread a paper copy of their work, rather than reading only from a computer screen.

4 Reading out loud is a good strategy to test if what you have written makes sense and follows a logical structure. If the work 'sounds' wrong when you are reading it out aloud, it probably is wrong.  You may also like to use an online text reader or other digital tools.

5. Check your references: have you included citations for all of the sources you have used?  Are these in the correct format?  Is your reference list complete and correct?  

Need to know more...

We have produced resources to help you to develop your skills in this area.  You will find a factsheet on this topic below, plus others you may find useful.  See also the Online and Books tabs above.  

Related factsheets


University of Reading (2017) Effective proof reading.  (Accessed: 2 September 2019).


LinkedIn Learning Resources

linkedin learning promotional imageLinkedIn Learning offers online courses and videos to support a wide range of personal, technical and creative skills.

Have a look at our Proofreading Collection for some recommended resources.

Need more advice?

You can also discuss your development of this skill with a member of the Academic Skills Team.

Make an appointment for an online discussion or email support  by using our online booking form.

Personalising your device and using assistive tools

There are many assistive technology tools which can help you choose how you want to access material and these can really improve your productivity.

The University has made some applications available on the student PCs within the library and IT Centres; others are free for you to download and use on your own devices (phone, tablet, laptop or computer) .  Find out more on our personalising standard software guide and our assistive tools and software guide.