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University Writing Center




Revising vs. Proofreading


Many people use the words proofreading and revising interchangeably, but in reality they are both very different steps in the writing process.

Revising usually occurs after the first draft is written. It focuses on the “big picture” (organization, tone, clarity, support, etc.) of your paper.
Proofreading is probably most effective when performed towards the end of the writing process. It is the time when you check for things like grammar, spelling, mechanics, word choice, punctuation, etc.


During revising you should be asking yourself these sorts of questions:

√  Is my thesis clear?

√  Is there a logical structure/organization from paragraph to paragraph? Do they lead

into each other while still reverting back to my original main idea?

√  Does the structure inside my paragraphs (sentence to sentence) make sense?

√  Do I develop my ideas clearly throughout the paper?

√  Is the tone that is used throughout the paper the right one for the intended


√  Does my introduction help give readers an idea of what is to come in the paper and

entice them to keep reading?

√  Does my conclusion show that my paper is significant? Does it make connections to

an even larger picture or relate the paper to everyday life?

√  Do I fulfill the assignment I was given by my professor?

√  Are there sections where I can expand without padding the text? Will it make my

paper better if I add more examples or explain an idea further, etc.?

√  Are there any ideas or words repeated unnecessarily? Can I remove them without

    compromising the clarity of what I’m saying?

Don’t be afraid to make changes on your draft. It is only a draft and it can only improve when examined closely.


  • Before you begin proofreading, make sure you’ve revised so that things like your content, organization, and style are how you want them to be.


  • By revising first and proofreading second you can save a lot of time because you are improving ideas that you know will remain in your final paper, as opposed to correcting sections that be deleted in the future


Some hints for proofreading:

√  Spell check and grammar check are not always right and do not correct everything. Your computer does not know the difference between “here” and “hear,” and grammar check is not sophisticated enough to solve most punctuation errors.

√  Have someone else read your paper over for you. After working on a paper for a long time, it is sometimes difficult to see mistakes that can be obvious to someone who is reading it for the first time.

√  Schedule a consultation at the writing center. The consultants are there to offer you feedback and support at any step in your writing.

√  Read your work slowly or even aloud. This can help you hear everything that you have written. Some mistakes will jump out at you that you didn’t see while reading silently. If you’re embarrassed to read your work aloud, you can pick up the phone and pretend like you’re talking to someone as you read your work.

√  Mix up your pages so they’re out of order and read each one. This will help you focus on details like grammar and word choice, as opposed to the content of your paper.

√  Read your paper backwards starting with your last sentence, then second to last sentence, third to last…etc. This helps you focus on each individual sentence out of the context of the entire paper.

√  Place you finger underneath each word and read them slowly. This will help you focus on the individual words and sentences

√  Use a sheet of scrap paper and place it under each line of text. This way you are focused on only one line at a time.

Visit the University Writing Center soon to become a more flexible and expert writer!

For more information, call 410-543-6332 or visit us in GUC 206.