Essay proofreading guidelines: How to use computer programs

Technology can really come in handy when it comes to proofreading and editing your essay. While most only have access to basic spellchecking software on their word processor, there are other applications out there that do so much more. Here are some suggestions for searches you can do on the web to get these types of programs.

First, a word on your word processor’s spellchecking options

Your word processor most likely has a standard spellchecking facility. UK English and US English have varying parameters, so make sure your word processor is set to the appropriate one.

How to use this program: Most students use MS Word for their writing. If this is the program you use, then the F7 key will immediately spell check your paper.

If you are using words or names that are not contained in the onboard dictionary, then you can always add these to the dictionary by right clicking on the word and selecting ‘Add to dictionary’. Grammar and punctuation are also checked, but these are not always as reliable as more advanced proofreading programs.

Advanced proofreading applications

Besides the standard proofreading abilities on your word processor, there are other more advanced programs available that pick up mistakes a lot easier. These programs are also more adept at learning your style and won’t give you as many false alarms as what standard spell checkers do.

How to use this program: These programs really run themselves. With most of them, you simply paste your text into the program and it will highlight areas that need attention.

Text reading software

For grammar checking, search for an application that reads text. There are many of these online, some of which are free.

How to use this program: Select the text you want read and listen intently to whether there are any grammatical hiccups. For many students, this is a much easier way to check grammar than reading it themselves.

Readability testing sites

There are free readability sites available on the internet that will check how easy it is to read your text. The program does this by measuring sentence length and bullet points. If sentences are too long, the software will give you a high score or “reader difficulty”. However, if you have plenty of bullet points and shorter sentences, the application will render a low score.

How to use this program: Simply copy your text from your document and paste it into the site’s online text box. Hit the relevant button and your results are instant. Try to find a good balance between a high and low score. Your paper shouldn’t be too simple, or too complicated.

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