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English Composition 1
The Writing Process: Prewriting |
Drafting | Revising | Proofreading
| The Final Draft
The Writing Process: Proofreading
It has been a long journey. John was given the assignment to write an essay
of at least 800 words in which he analyzes and interprets Dorothea Lange's
photograph Migrant Mother. John began with some
prewriting activities, after which he began the
drafting stage of the writing process. He then
proceeded to what he discovered was the most time-consuming stage,
revising. And now John has arrived at the the final
stage. It is time for John to proofread his paper and to make final corrections.
Tips for Proofreading
- Don't skip the proofreading! It usually takes a long time to write a
good essay, and we would not want an essay to be weakened by obvious errors
that slipped by because of a lack of careful proofreading.
- Be careful of grammar checkers. Grammar checkers can be useful in
helping you identify possible problems in an essay, but a grammar checker is
only a tool, and not even a great tool. The grammar checker in Microsoft
Word, for instance, is correct in its suggestions only about half of the
time. It's wrong the other half of the time, giving incorrect advice and
even suggesting that you should change a sentence that is just fine the way
it is written. Carefully evaluate all of the advice you get from your
grammar checker. Don't just accept it as the truth.
- Use the spell checker, of course, but do not expect miracles from it. A
spell checker is excellent in helping us make sure that we are spelling
words correctly, but it does not tell us if we are using words correctly.
You might use the word "defiantly" when you mean "definitely," and the spell
checker will not care as long as you have spelled the word correctly.
- As you proofread, try reading your paper aloud. If you find any places
where you stumble a bit through the words, there is a good chance that your
readers will also have some problems with that part of your paper. It might
be a good idea to reword the sentence.
- Have someone else read your paper and give you suggestions in terms of
the grammar and punctuation. But, of course, it is up to you to decide what
to do with that advice.
- Try proofreading your essay backwards. In other words, go to the end of
your paper and read the last sentence. Then read the next-to-last sentence,
and continue on to the beginning of your paper. When we read something,
especially when we have read it many times, we sometimes read what we think
we should see instead of what we really see. Proofreading your essay
backwards helps you see the sentences in a new way, out of the context of
the flow of your idea throughout the essay.
- Yes, there are many rules about grammar and punctuation, but you can
learn enough of them so that errors will not be a problem for you. There are
many resources available to help you with grammar and punctuation rules,
including many good online sources. Use the resources available to you.
Instead of guessing, see if you can find the answers. The answers are out
there, as they say.
- If you have received enough feedback on your writing to know what kinds
of errors tend to give you problems, try to focus on identifying and
eliminating those kinds of errors as you proofread your essay.
- Proofread your essay both on the computer and in print form. For some
reason, we sometimes notice mistakes in a printed copy that we do not notice
when we read the words on the computer screen.
The Proofreading of John's Essay
John proofread his essay carefully, rereading it several times, and he found
about 15 errors that he was able to correct.
The errors that John identified and corrected include the following:
- "Migrant Mother"--title of the photograph should be italicized: changed
to Migrant Mother
- "this family clearly are
suffering"--lack of subject/verb agreement: changed to "this family clearly is suffering."
- "the mother and children themselves do not seem to have bathe for a
while"--word choice error: changed "bathe" to "bathed"
- "The mother is poor, the whole family is suffering, but the mother does
try to provide some support and comfort for her children"--a comma splice:
changed to "The mother is poor, and the whole family is suffering, but the
mother does try to provide some support and comfort for her children."
- "The women is living in the midst of extreme poverty, but she must
remain strong and look to the future for the sake of her children."--word
choice error: changed to "The woman is living in the midst of extreme
poverty, but she must remain strong and look to the future for the sake of
John has proofread his paper carefully and repeatedly, and he is confident
that, at most, there might be only a few errors remaining in his essay.
John has done it. He has finished writing his essay and is ready to turn in
his final draft.
Let's give John a round of applause and take a look at his
This page was last updated on
Thursday, February 04, 2010. Copyright Randy Rambo,