Why Is Proofreading Important?

Proofreading polishes your writing to make it more professional and complete.
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Proofreading can be the determining factor between getting or not getting a job, earning an A or C on an essay, or upsetting or effectively communicating with a peer. Proofreading helps to remove careless errors from your writing to improve the overall effectiveness of the message. When proofreading your work, read carefully through the text and share it with a peer or teacher for thorough feedback.

1 Spelling and Vocabulary

Spelling mistakes can be distracting and can change the meaning of a text. They can also give the impression that you hurried through your work without taking the time to read over it. Proofreading allows you to identify spelling errors, such as mixing up the words "loose" and "lose," and helps to identify overly repeated words. If you find that you are using the same word too often in a text, look up synonyms in a thesaurus to diversify the language.

2 Grammar

Improper grammar -- such as sentence fragments and run-on sentences -- negatively impacts the clarity of the content. It can confuse the reader and prevent her from understanding your overall point. One solution to this problem is to read the work aloud; this way you can hear the flow of the words to better identify when a part of the sentence is missing or if a sentence is too long. Common grammatical errors include mix-ups between "their," "they're" and "there," between "your" and "you're," and between "its" and "it's."

3 Structure

Proofreading your work allows you to evaluate whether your writing has a complete and organized structure. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill advises writers to check whether their paragraphs have clear topic sentences and stick to the essay's main idea. For an essay, you should check for an introduction, body and conclusion. For a letter, you look for a properly placed date, name of the person to whom the letter is addressed and your own name at the bottom. Proofreading for structure includes making certain that the text stays on topic throughout without resorting to unnecessary repetition of already stated points.

4 Peer Review

Peer review is when a writer shares her writing with another person to be proofread and edited. Fresh eyes are an excellent way to identify errors and inconsistencies that the writer does not see. In the case of an essay, an outside proofreader can determine whether the essay is rambling, missing key links between topics, lacking convincing evidence or missing a clear thesis statement. In the case of an email or letter, the peer reviewer can identify whether the tone and content is appropriate for the intended audience.

Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.