Don’t Turn in Your Paper Without Checking for These 5 Things

Like it or not, a great paper can receive a less-than-stellar grade due to simple mistakes. Lucky for you, we’ve made proofreading easy with our simple checklist. Scan through and snag the glitches that stand between you and perfection.

#1 Structure

This is the framework that your entire paper hangs on. Before digging deep into your proofing, be sure you have done the following:

  • Clearly stated the argument of the paper within the first two paragraphs
  • Addressed each new idea with a new paragraph
  • Ensured each idea supports and ties directly to the paper’s argument
  • Created a logical transition from one paragraph to the next
  • Ended with a conclusion that ties all ideas together in a logical manner (get ideas for ending your essay here)

#2 Class Guidelines

Following the formatting guidelines on your class or paper rubric is a must. Most instructors provide guidelines for very specific reasons. Adhering to them is an easy way to get on the good side of your grader, while ignoring them has the opposite effect. Here are a few of the most common elements you should look out for.

  • Cover page requirements
  • Location of your name
  • Class name and section
  • Location of page numbers
  • Font style and size
  • Line spacing (double, 1.5 or single)

#3 Citation Style

Consulting an appropriate style guide in essential when presently scholarly work. Which guide you use depends on what style your teacher specified, or the subject matter. The Modern Language Association (MLA style) or American Psychological Association (APA) are two widely used examples. After consulting your style guide, make sure you have executed everything below correctly.

#4 Writing Style

Your writing style refers not just to your personal voice, but also to basic stylistic choices like use of contractions (“it’s” versus “it is”). Consistency makes your writing clear and easy to understand—especially when there’s more than one correct way to do things. Here are a few examples:

  • Use of contractions vs. full words
  • Spelling of words with multiple correct variations (i.e. grey or gray)
  • Italics vs. underlining for emphasis
  • Paragraphs indicated with an indent or a full space

Whatever you chose, you must stick with it throughout your paper.

#5 Grammar and Spelling

In the process of writing and editing, it’s easy to make small grammar or spelling mistakes. The final step of proofreading is to polishing out these tiny errors. Double check that you have:

  • Avoided overusing the same words or phrases
  • Correct verb tense and agreement
  • Single spaces between words
  • Correctly used of homophones like “their” and “there”
  • Selected hyphens, en dashes and em dashes correctly
  • Completed sentences with the proper punctuation
  • Avoided run-ons or comma splices
  • Consistency of font type and size

It may feel like there’s a lot to remember when proofing your paper, but if you break it up into steps, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Print out our checklist and we’ll be with you every step of the way.


If you’re looking for citation help, take a gander at Cite This For Me. It helps you can create an MLA works cited page, a Chicago style in text citation, citations in Harvard referencing and much more!