Skills Hub

Proofreading

Always leave time to proofread your work. This is the final check for punctuation, spelling and correct referencing - not for content.

Language check 

It's best to wait at least a day after finishing writing your assignment. Use your spell check on screen, but then proofread a print-out rather than on screen. You'll spot mistakes you hadn't noticed.

It's helpful to read your work aloud too. You may see words spelt correctly but with the wrong meaning, such as ‘were' instead of ‘where'.

Look through to make sure you have used names and terms consistently.

There are links to dictionaries, grammar and punctuation resources here: State of Writing


References and bibliography

Check the Skills Hub pages on Referencing. Include a bibliography (set out in alphabetical order) or reference list.

Formatting

You may have guidance on spacing and alignment of text, typeface and margin size, so you should follow this. If not, use Times New Roman font size 12 and double spacing.

Here are some helpful Proofreading tips from the Plain English campaign. The last tip recommends asking someone else to proofread your work.

Please note that if you do ask someone else to proofread your work you must follow the University's guidance set out below.
 

Can I ask someone else to proofread my work? 

If you ask someone else to proofread your work you must make sure that their changes are limited to minor language correction. This can include errors in grammar, vocabulary, expression and word order.

They should only make specific suggestions to correct the language where the meaning is clear.

Where the meaning is not clear, the proofreader should not make specific suggestions for improvement or corrections. Instead, the proofreader may outline in broad terms the nature of the issue, for example, use of tenses and/or grammar, spelling errors etc.

A proofreader should not make any changes directly to the work, but should suggest changes by writing on a hard copy or using Track Changes etc.

The proposals made by a proofreader should be retained by the student in case a concern regarding misconduct is raised.

No substantial changes to the content should be made. A proofreader may not:

  • Rewrite sections where argumentation or logic is unclear
  • Rewrite sections to improve paraphrasing
  • Rearrange paragraphs and sentences with the intention of improving structure
  • Rearrange paragraphs and sentences with the intention of improving the argument
  • Correct calculations, data, or factual errors etc
  • Make substantial changes or correction to the references and bibliography

 
A proofreader may:

• Identify errors in grammar, vocabulary, expression and word order, only making specific minor suggestions where the communication is clear
• Highlight areas where communication is unclear or where there is inconsistent use of a referencing system.

A proofreader may not be used for assessments where the use of language and the formal accuracy of the work form part of the mark.

It will be stated in the assessment task that a proofreader may not be used.

It is the student's responsibility to ensure that these guidelines have been followed for work that is submitted for assessment.

 

Kalim

Third Year English Literature student

View Kalim's student perspective

Transcript

Have you got any tips for writing essays at university?
Yeah, proofing - I always try and proofread a number of times if possible. There are still always things that you will miss and proofreading is really boring because you know you've read it before but you're just looking for little mistakes but you have to do it slowly otherwise there's no point doing it. That's really important, really important! You've got to proofread. In fact, what I want to do this year as well, is finish my essays with time to spare so as well as proofreading them I can try and forget about them a little bit and get out of the essay mind set or that essay mind set and then come back to it a few days later and read it with a fresh perspective because often you find things in essays that you've written in the past and you think I was too embedded in thinking about everything that I missed an obvious point or I missed that link or that was a silly point or something. But I think it's also good to read your essay with a very critical eye because often the tendency is to read your own essay and think ‘Oh yeah, that kind of makes sense because of that' and you're on your own side but I think it'd be great to read your own essay pretending that it's written by someone you don't like and you're trying to find gaps in their argument and then often you do find things and you think actually that's not really a very strong link and then if you've got time you can fix them.

Donna

Second Year Geography student

View Donna's student perspective

Transcript

How do you make time for proofreading?
It's quite good to try and set yourself almost a fake deadline so that you get the work done a week or so before it's meant to be handed in and then leave it a couple of days and go back to it, because if you're trying to proofread an hour after you've written it you've still got the ideas in your head and you don't read it properly, so it's good to leave a bit of time before you proofread it, so you can pick up all the faults.

Do not rely on your computer's spell-check. Use a Dictionary to check usage and spelling (e.g. Oxford English Dictionary).

Proofreading checklist

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation and grammar mistakes
  • Have I followed the conventions in textual references, footnotes, quotations, bibliography, etc.?
  • Are the pages numbered?
  • Have I double-spaced the text?
  • Are the margins wide enough for easy reading and tutor comments?
  • Are lengthy quotes indented?
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