The UVic Writer's Guide
Here are a list--whoops, make that "Here is a list"--of tips for
- Once you are satisfied with the content of your essay, be sure
that it is visually satisfactory: look for careless mistakes.
Proofreading is an essential task that many writers do not take
seriously. Reread the essay, out loud if possible, to make sure
that it flows well and that it makes sense as a whole.
- Since you have worked on the essay one section at a time, you
may have forgotten to connect those sections properly. Reading
your essay aloud from beginning to end may make you realize that
it is less coherent or not as thorough as you had thought, and you may even have to
do some last minute research to bolster a weak point. Hearing
a sentence may make its faults clearer than they appear on the
page. You may discover that you have left a sentence incomplete,
omitted a citation, or (if you are using a computer) forgotten
to erase unwanted text.
- If you have typed your paper or used a word processor, you must
beware of the illusion of perfection that the printed page presents.
Your essay looks so official and sophisticated that mistakes seem
inconceivable. However, they are probably there. A typo is no
less an error than a spelling mistake. While the professor may
know that the error comes from your fingers rather than your brain,
the experience of reading your paper will still have been interrupted,
and there will be an ugly gash of red ink on the page.
- One of the most efficient ways of picking up spelling errors (if
you have the time) is to read your work backwards, word for word.
That way you are looking at each individual word, not reading
for the overall sense of the passage.
- Alternatively, get a friend to read your paper, or (best of all,
both for spelling and for style) leave the paper for several days,
then come back and read it carefully. The only problem with this
last solution is that it is seldom practical in the real world
of university assignments.
- The presentation of your essay is not a trivial matter; you wish to show the reader
that you are thorough and organized. A series of typos suggests
that you are careless, and does not reflect well upon your work.
Check very carefully for errors in spelling, typing, and, especially
in the Bibliography, punctuation. Many professors deduct marks for these mistakes.
Topics About Essays
Table of Contents
Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria,
This page updated May 13, 1995