The power of proofreading

I’ve written a paper.
I’ve spent countless hours in front of the computer screen, typing, researching, citing, etc.
My eyes hurt.
My back hurts.
And the last thing I want to reread is my paper.
Save. Submit. Close.

Throughout my undergrad years I refused to reread what I wrote. I just could not do it. It wasn’t that I was lacking confidence in my writing; I reallydid not want to reread it. Maybe it was because I spent hours/days/weeks slaving over it and I was finally DONE. Then, when I received my paper back and saw my consequent grade, I would shrug, ignore the comments, and eventually start whatever other paper was due next. Yawn.

Once I was in graduate school, I realized what I was doing was not acceptable. Not only was my writing not growing, but it was bland, mediocre, and full of simple errors I could have caught if I was paying attention. So one day, after stressing for weeks over a paper that would make or break my grade in that class, I scrolled up to the top of my Word document and started reading my paper…out loud.

I had barely finished the first paragraph but had caught easily five grammatical errors [simple ones that are easy to breeze through], reworded some sentences to make them stronger, clarified what I meant on certain points, reorganized my thesis–it was incredible. And the best part? I sounded brilliant.

I know it is extremely hard to reread something you’ve just spent days working on. Once it’s done, it’s done. Saved. Submitted. Next please. But by taking 15 minutes out of your day to reread what you’ve written, you will notice things you’ve never noticed and start to identify writing habits and simple errors.

The majority of the time in the Writing Center, we will reread your paper with you. So why not save yourself some time and reread it before coming in? By catching your small errors before coming in we can spend more time in the session discussing other issues that we might not be able to get to if we’re stopping every five seconds to tell you a grammar rule. Rereading your paper ahead of time will build your confidence, expand your knowledge, and create understanding. We will gladly look over your paper for little things that your keen eye has missed, but you yourself know your brilliance better than we do. Prove to yourself that you’re a great writer. I know you are.

So reread!
It truly helps.
This is simply a little knowledge from me to you.
I hope it’s been beneficial!

-Olivia

This post was originally published on December 8, 2011.

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