How to Proofread: What to Look For

Proofreading is the process of reviewing and editing a final draft of writing. The goal is to ensure that grammar, spelling, and formatting are consistent and precise throughout your writing. In general, proofreading a text can be divided into two categories: technical errors and content-related errors. Here are a few suggestions to look for when proofreading.

Technical Errors to Look For and Be Aware of:

  • Grammar:

  • An incomplete sentence lacks a subject, verb, and complete thought.

  • A comma splice occurs when two main clauses are joined incorrectly with a comma and not followed by a coordinating conjunction.

  • A sentence fuse is a run-on sentence in which two independent clauses are joined without punctuation or conjunction.

  • Punctuation:

  • Use the colon only when the second clause explains or summarizes the first clause.

  • Use a semicolon to connect independent clauses that are closely related.

  • Use a dash if the second independent clause makes an important point.

  • Use a period to indicate the end of a complete sentence.

  • An apostrophe shows possession or where letters have been left out in a contraction.

  • Spelling: Some words in the English language sound similar but have different spellings and meanings.

  • You’re / Your

  • Weather / Whether

  • Accept / Except

  • Their / There / They’re

Content Related Errors:

  • Plagiarism is when content is taken directly from someone else. Make sure to follow appropriate MLA guidelines when citing an author whose ideas you borrowed.

  • A lack of critical thinking is apparent when the writer fails to build upon their sentences and push forward their idea to make it more clear.

  • Vague sentences have no direction and can cause confusion.

Weak and unrelated information has no connection or relation to the subject matter at hand.

Apps to Checkout


Grammarly is another great option. For proofreading, the free version of Grammarly will suffice. You can upload a document from your computer or copy and paste a specific area of text. On the right-hand side, Grammarly will show your overall score and make suggestions based on correctness, clarity, and delivery. Red is used to indicate spelling errors, and yellow shows grammatical errors. Grammarly will make suggestions for spelling mistakes, but you will have to revise the grammatical errors.

Microsoft Editor

Microsoft Editor is a helpful feature for catching spelling and grammar mistakes that have been overlooked. Once you start typing in Word, Microsoft Editor will automatically make corrections by flagging the text that may need revising. By clicking the underlined text, a suggestion will appear. Selecting the suggested word will replace the error in your text. There is also a new Editor feature in the ribbon of the Home tab. Clicking this option will open the “Editor” pane to the right of the document. Here, you’ll see an overall percentage of your content based on the Editor’s algorithm, and then below that, it breaks it down into Corrections and Refinement. Clicking on the suggestions will detect the mistake and provide other options.

Works Cited:

Dominguez, David. I Know What I Want To Say, But I Don’t Know How To Say It (Eighth Edition).

Gunnell, Marshall. “What Is Microsoft Editor, and How Do I Use It?” How-to Geek,

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