Answered By: Meg Galasso
Last Updated: Oct 07, 2015     Views: 67

Taking the time to proofread your assignments is one of the easiest ways to succeed in college.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • Leave yourself time after writing an assignment to read through it at least twice—once for content and once for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  You should be doing this for discussion posts, assignments, papers, and any other written work that you submit for a class.
  • Read your writing out loud.  If you pause or stumble over a word or a sentence, then your reader will too.  Try rewording what you are trying to say, putting in a coma, or separating one long sentence into multiple shorter sentences. Then make sure that you read it out loud again to see if that fixed the problem.
  • Read it backward.  Start with the last sentence and read your writing in reverse order.  This can help you focus on the spelling, grammar, and punctuation instead of just reading through the content.
  • Print out longer assignments like essays or papers.  Proofreading and editing on a computer screen can be tough on your eyes and make focusing on the little details difficult.  Print out your assignment first, mark any issues, and then make the changes on your computer.
  • Make sure that you are using the kind of language, grammar, and punctuation that you would use on a job application—not in a text or on social media.  College is the best time to practice professionalism. 
  • Don’t trust your spell checker! It will not always catch when you use the wrong word, a comma instead of a period, incorrect citations, or a wide range of other writing issues.  Use your spell checker as a tool, but you still need to proofread your work.
  • Look out for commonly confused, misspelled, or mistyped words that your spell checker might not catch: their/they’re/there, its/it’s, you/you’re, to/too/two, conscious/conscience, effect/affect, accept/except, etc.
  • If your instructor points out the same mistake on multiple assignments, make special note of that mistake. Ask your instructor or librarian for advice on how to fix it, look it up in a writing handbook, and remember that practicing good writing takes time and patience.
  • Check for the little details that look like big mistakes.  Did you close your parentheses and quotation marks?  Is the first letter of every sentence capitalized?  Did you remember to use in-text citations when needed?  Did you accidentally repeat a word?  Does your subject agree with your verb?  
  • Ask a librarian or tutor to look over your work before you submit it.  After you have proofread your assignment, a second pair of eyes can catch mistakes or typos that you might have missed.  Make sure that you leave enough time between writing your assignment and when it is due to take advantage of your resources here at Harrison College!

Want more information on proofreading and writing skills? Check out these resources:  

Corbett, P. B. (2011, October 4). The reader’s lament. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hacker, D., & Sommers, N. (2011). A writer’s reference (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St.   Martin’s.

Sorenson. S. (2010). Webster’s New World student writing handbook (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Stilman, A. (2010). Grammatically correct: The essential guide to spelling, style, usage, grammar, and punctuation [ProQuest ebrary version]. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books. Retrieved from

Strausser, J. (2009). Painless writing (2nd ed). Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

Strunk, W., & White, E. B. (2009). The elements of style (50th anniversary ed.). New York: Pearson Education, Inc.

Wilson, K., & Wauson, J. (2010). The AMA handbook of business writing: The ultimate guide to style, grammar, punctuation, usage, construction, and formatting [ProQuest ebrary version]. New York: American Management Association. Retrieved from

Yagoda, B. (2013). How to not write bad: The most common writing problems and the best ways to avoid them. New York: Riverhead Books.


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