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Proofreading Your Essay: sub-module 3 of 3 of revising your essay

The last step in the revision process is proofreading. It is the final look through your writing. This process can help you catch smaller errors, such as spelling mistakes that you might have missed when you were editing for larger errors.


  • Use the spell check and grammar check features of your word processing software. These tools are not perfect, but they can help.
  • Read your work out loud. Your ear can sometimes be more helpful than your eye. If it doesn’t sound right to you, it probably isn’t.
  • Consider reading your paper from the end to the beginning.You may not see an error if you read from the beginning to the end because the brain overpowers the eye. It knows what you wanted to say and therefore may ‘see’ what it wants to see and not what is actually there.
  • Use a pencil to point to each word. This is another technique to make you focus on what you have actually written, not what you think you have written.
  • Consider working with a partner at this stage. A partner may spot mistakes that you have missed.

Study Tools

What to Consider When Proofreading Your Essay

The Proofreading Process

Watch this video to learn about Proofreading and what you should look for when you are giving your essay a last look. You can also download th Proofreading Video Transcript.

During the Proofreading stage you should look for spelling errors and give your essay a check for small errors.

Proofreading Checklist

  • Have I looked for mistakes without relying on a spellchecker?
  • Have I proofread a hard copy of my essay?
  • Have I read my essay aloud?
  • Have I read every word instead of skimming?
  • Have I broken sentences down to verify things such as subject-verb agreement?
  • Have I verified that I use plural nouns if I am referring to more than one of something?
  • Have I made sure I have capitalized where it is necessary?
  • Have I read my paper backwards?
  • Do my essay and list of references fit the guidelines of the relevant style guide (MLA, APA, etc.)?
  • Has someone else read my essay?

Higher-Order and Lower-Order Concerns

There are three stages to revising your writing: Revision, Editing, and Proofreading. Often these stages can be referred to as Higher-Order and Lower-Order concerns. The Proofreading stage addresses Lower-Order concerns.

Higher-Order and Lower-Order Concerns Video Transcript

Understanding Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes are groups of letters that can be added to the root of many words to modify the meaning of those words. Learn prefixes and suffixes to quickly improve your vocabulary.

Here are some examples of prefixes and suffixes that you can use in your writing.

A prefix is added to beginning of a word.

  • Prefix: Hyper-

    Meaning: Over, more than
    Example: Hypersonic, hypersensitive

  • Prefix: Hypo-

    Meaning: Under, less than
    Example: Hypodermic, hypoglycemia

  • Prefix: Inter-

    Meaning: Between, connecting
    Example: Intervene, international

  • Prefix: Mega-

    Meaning: Enlarge, large
    Example: Megaphone

  • Prefix: Micro-

    Meaning: Tiny
    Example: micrometer, microscopic

  • Prefix: Neo-

    Meaning: Recent, new
    Example: Neologism, neophyte

  • Prefix: Post-

    Meaning: After
    Example: Postwar, postscript

  • Prefix: Pre-

    Meaning: Before
    Example: Previous, prepublication

  • Prefix: Pro-

    Meaning: Before, onward
    Example: Project, propel

  • Prefix: Re-

    Meaning: Again, back
    Example: Review, recreate

  • Prefix: Sub-

    Meaning: Under, beneath
    Example: Subhuman, submarine

  • Prefix: Super-

    Meaning: Over, above
    Example: Supercargo, superimpose

  • Prefix: Syn-

    Meaning: At the same time
    Example: Synonym, synchronize

  • Prefix: Trans-

    Meaning: Across, over
    Example: Transport, transition

A suffix is added to the end of a word.

  • Suffix: -acy

    Meaning: State or quality
    Example: Democracy, privacy

  • Suffix: -al

    Meaning: Act of
    Example: Rebuttal, refusal

  • Suffix: -ance, -ence

    Meaning: State or quality of
    Example: Maintenance, eminence

  • Suffix: -dom

    Meaning: Place or state of being
    Example: Freedom, thralldom

  • Suffix: -er, -or

    Meaning: One who
    Example: Trainer, investor

  • Suffix: -ism

    Meaning: doctrine or belief
    Example: Liberalism, Taoism

  • Suffix: -ist

    Meaning: Characteristic of one who
    Example: Organist, physicist

  • Suffix: -ity

    Meaning: Quality of
    Example: Veracity, opacity

  • Suffix: -ness

    Meaning: State of being
    Example: Watchfulness, cleanliness

  • Suffix: -ship

    Meaning: Position held
    Example: Professorship, fellowship

  • Suffix: -sion, -tion

    Meaning: State of being or action
    Example: Digression, transition

Verb suffixes are added to the end of word roots to create verbs.

  • Suffix: -ate

    Meaning: Cause to be
    Example: Concentrate, regulate

  • Suffix: -en

    Meaning: Cause to be or become
    Example: Enliven, blacken

  • Suffix: -ify, -fy

    Meaning: Make or cause to become
    Example: Unify, terrify, amplify

  • Suffix: -ize

    Meaning: Cause to become
    Example: Magnetize, civilize

Adjective suffixes are added to the end of word roots to create adjectives.

  • Suffix: -able, -ible

    Meaning: Capable of being
    Example: Assumable, edible

  • Suffix: -al

    Meaning: Pertaining to
    Example: Regional, political

  • Suffix: -esque

    Meaning: Reminiscent of
    Example: Picturesque, statuesque

  • Suffix: -ful

    Meaning: Having a notable quality
    Example: Colourful, sorrowful

  • Suffix: -ic

    Meaning: Pertaining to
    Example: Poetic, mythic

  • Suffix: -ish

    Meaning: Having the quality of
    Example: Prudish, clownish

  • Suffix: -ious, -ous

    Meaning: Of or characterized by
    Example: Famous, nutritious

  • Suffix: -ive

    Meaning: Having the nature of
    Example: Active, aggressive