Study Tips & Tricks

Because proofreading!

The now notorious bus stop in Bristol. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Bup? Really? Anyone who saw this picture in the media last week would have been incredulous at how on earth these sign writers managed this spelling absurdity: ‘Bup Stop’. Read the full story here.

Still, it does prove how easily spelling and grammar mistakes can slip through unnoticed. Your spelling mistakes are unlikely to trend on Twitter of course but the consequences and damage to your marks can be high.

Whereas editing looks at the ‘bigger picture’ of your writing: structure,style and task requirements, proofreading drills down to the finer points: spelling, grammar, word choice and punctuation.

Here are some key tips for proofreading:

  • Read your assignment out loud one sentence at a time. Often mistakes are easier to hear than see.
  • A sentence should only have one point. If it’s longer than two or three lines perhaps it should be more than one sentence
  • Use a spell checker – but do not rely on it!
  • Learn to spell the words and jargon and that you will be using often.
  • Check your work by reading it backwards. You’ll concentrate on each word individually this way rather than seeing what’s expected.
  • Get a critical friend – no, not a ‘frenemy’ but someone who can read your work and spot mistakes and give constructive feedback.

You can read more on the Editing and Proofreading on QUT Library’s Studywell.


  1. I use these tips when I write assignments and they really do make the difference!

  2. Andrea Fuller

    This is all great advice. The other thing I find really improves my assignments is to allow myself time to let the assignment “sit” for a few days then go back to it for a final read before submitting. This not only improves the final edit, I often think of some aspect I could improve on (during those few days while I’m not consciously thinking about the assignment).

    • Gabrielle Hayes

      That’s a great tip Andrea!

  3. Michelle

    You may want to proofread your article. Have a look at point 4.

    • Gabrielle Hayes

      Ha, thanks Michelle 🙂 I could pretend it was intentional but it really proves the point, doesn’t it, that a ‘critical friend’ is a FANTASTIC resource

  4. Yeah, unfortunately this is exactly my problem! I never read my assignments if I finished of them, so I’ve got troubles! the last assignment when I wanted to submit it quickly I copied the conclusion twice 🙁

    I think for those who are international students like me; they should be careful when are dealing with assignments! And I strongly agree with you using these steps.

    Thank you Gabrielle for your advices.

  5. Phil Bennett

    All good advice… As well as the tips above, I write a list of all the requisites of the essay which i tick off as i read – this way you don’t miss any nuances. I.e. if the Question asks for a critical analysis of X,Y and Z and suggestions for how XYZ impact on the provision of services to the public in Eastern states of Australia the list would be: address X, then link this to Y and on to Z with each section limited and defined to the aspects of service provision in Eastern Australian states, it could also be written with the XYZ sections answered first then a separate paragraph explaining the Eastern states part. think about this critically – look at why you are being asked to examine this particular slant, what it has to do with your course or specific unit, if you can understand why you are being asked the question it is easier to answer effectivly – So Check all parts of the Question and address these systematically, check the marking criteria (CRA) and make sure you have addressed each of the pionts the marker is trying to identify in your essay, To make it really easy on the marker , spell out each of the requisites in the CRA in the same order as they are listed, this way the marker can go – did the student address X? – Yes, and Y? – Yes, and Z – Yes. what about the impact on Eastern Australian states ?- Yes. Also, work from the requisites in the 7’s column of the CRA and you are in with a good chance of writing a good essay submission. Also, is there one word to replace several? use it if you would use it in your everyday vocabulary, don,t opt for big ‘impressive’ words if you would not normally do this, make the essay have it’s own style and voice – YOUR style and voice.
    Good luck. Hope this makes sense and helps you a bit,REMEMBER… enjoy the process and it will become easier.