Proofreading the Final Draft of an Essay

Once you have reached the final draft of your essay, you should give it one last proofread to make sure it is as perfect as possible. But by the time you've written your final draft, you've looked at your essay so many times it's hard to see it clearly. What is the best way to check for any final errors?

It can be helpful to use your computer's "Find and Replace" function to seek out frequent grammatical errors and make sure you have used specific terms correctly. Frequent mistakes include:

  • Your and you're
  • There, their and they're
  • Than and then
  • Affect and effect
  • For and fro
  • A and an
  • Had and has

Search for each word and make sure it is used correctly in context. Each writer has particular quirks, and once you've identified yours you can add those words to your list of search words. These kind of tiny errors easily slip by the writer, but stand out like a sore thumb to the reader. It may not affect the validity of your ideas, but small grammatical mistakes undermine your argument. If you didn't bother to perfect your presentation, how can we believe that you've perfected your reasoning? Taking the time to make sure your essay is grammatically correct goes a long way toward convincing your reader that you are an authority on your subject.

It can be difficult to recognize errors on your computer screen because you've become accustomed to looking at the same thing over and over. When you are proofreading your final draft, it can be helpful to change the font or typeface of your document temporarily. This allows you to see the document differently and catch errors you might have glossed over in previous edits. It can also be helpful to print out your document and go over it with a pen in your hand. You'd be surprised how much easier it is to spot mistakes when the document is actually in front of you. Printing out your document also allows you to recognize any issues with formatting that may have slipped past you. Check indentations, spacing, centering, headers and footers, and page numbers.

Editing your final draft can be time-consuming, but it is worth it. Even if you don't find any mistakes, you can comfortably turn in your essay knowing you've done your best!