3 Tips for Proof Reading Your Friend’s Work

Yes, proof reading maybe one of the least enjoyable parts of essay writing, but it’s a vital step in crafting a great essay. That’s why it’s best to have a couple friends you can count for proof reading. After spending hours and hours on a lengthy essay, it can be hard to fairly judge your own work. The same goes for your friends as well, so make sure you can critique their essays fairly and efficiently by following these tips.

Don’t Get Personal

The last thing you want to do is insult your friend with your criticism. Try not to make value judgments on what they are arguing, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. Instead, you should be looking at how he or she support his or her arguments. Does your friend use citations for all of his or her points and are the quotes used appropriate? These are the questions you should ask of the essay. Just because you are a pro-choice liberal, that doesn’t give you the write to criticize a friend writing a paper on the virtues of pro-life federal policies. It maybe hard to distance yourself from your ideals when reading a friend’s essay, but this is not an appropriate time to attack his or her views. If someone comes to you for help make sure you’re actually giving them advice, or you may hear a lot less from them in the future.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Essay writing is a delicate art and some professors really expect the essays they receive to be free of minor errors. It’s entirely possibly to lose an A because of little mistakes that add up over the course of a paper. Some of the easiest mistakes to make involve the correct usage of pronouns. Here’s a few common mistakes. Do not use “I” in any part of your paper. It’s already assumed that the arguments in the essay you’re writing are your own, so including “I” is redundant. Also, do not use “they” in place of “he” or “she.” “They” is not a singular pronoun despite its common usage in everyday speech as such. Often times “one” can replace “they” without requiring further adjustments to the original sentence. Be mindful of misusing “their,” “they’re,” and “there” as these are easy to miss. One last frequent offender, is “it’s” versus “its.” Be careful of trying to use “it’s” as a possessive pronoun as it’s (great example) actually a contraction of “it is.”

Ask About Revision Goals

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to when critiquing a friend’s work. In order to find an area of focus, it might be best to just ask. It may sound simple, but many people don’t ever think to ask if there are any specific issues the writer might want help with. Maybe they want you to look for passive voice, or maybe they need help with comm splices. Either way, you might not be providing the criticism your friend really needs if you don’t ask them. Proofreading without any particular focus can be a lot like driving across the country without a map. You might end up missing a lot!

Got your own techniques? Or maybe you have some critiques for these tips (whoa, meta-criticism)? Let me know in the comments.

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Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals is a senior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing and Psychology. Outside of class, Ryan can be found working in the Pysch Lab or at a local health clinic. When he's not distracted by cat videos, he tries to balance his time between playing guitar, writing prose, and running around the soccer field.