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10 quick steps for proofreading your work

When you submit an assignment, you should read through your work carefully more than once; each time with a different focus. First, sort out the big issues which will have an impact on your final mark. Then, pay attention to the details which leave a good impression of your work.

1. Correct format:

a. Is it an essay or report or other?
b. Check the presentation requirements set out by your School/ tutor (e.g,. should lines be double-spaced? Should you include your name or ID?)

2. Appropriate content

Look at the Learning Outcomes and/or the assignment brief. Make sure you’ve not missed anything out in terms of content and remove irrelevant sections.

3. Overall Structure

Read through your work ‘in the shoes of the reader’. Have you made it crystal clear at the beginning what the assignment will cover? Does each section lead on logically from the last?  Have you included a conclusion which summarises just the main points?

4. Good Paragraphs

Check your writing falls into clear ‘chunks’. Stick to one topic, or sub-topic, in each paragraph. Re-organise if necessary and eliminate any single sentences floating by themselves. View our guidance on what makes a good paragraph.

5. Referencing

Are you using the right referencing system (Harvard, APA, OSCOLA, Numbering, etc.)? Have you consistently identified the source of any material you have used in your work? Make sure you view our guidance on referencing.

6. Sentences

Make sure these are complete and not too long. If unsure, read everything out loud.

7. Spelling

You will have your own Achilles heel so don’t rely on your computer to spot them. Common mistakes include 'their' vs. 'there' and typographic errors such as 'form' instead of 'from'. View our guidance on commonly confused words.

8. Pay attention to in-text references

When references come at the end of the sentence - such as (Brown, 2019) - put the full stop after the bracket. Make sure you are consistent, whether you use a comma between the author’s surname and year or not, and whether you use p or : before a page number- for example (Brown 2019: 41).

9. Punctuation

Check you can confidently use commas, apostrophes, semi-colons, and colons. View our guidance on punctuation.

10. Capital letters

Make sure acronyms are used consistently (e.g., NHS, DoH, BBC, UK, and so on). For reflective assignments, make sure you have used a capital ‘I’ (not i). Check you know what sort of words need a capital letter.


Make sure you read through your document several times. Come back to the assignment after taking a break and, during your final read through, what mark (honestly and paying attention to the marking criteria) would you give it?