Proofreading your content is a crucial step in every publishing journey.
Since you only get to make that first impression once, you’ve got to make it the best it can possibly be. Poor spelling, grammar and formatting, gives your audience the impression that you are unprofessional, lack an eye for detail or you’re simply too slapdash to care.
Not great, right?
So here are my 10 Top Tips to help you on your proofreading way.
#1 Using Your Spellchecker Is a Great Start – But Don’t Trust It Too Much
Make the spellchecker your first port of call because it will pick up on lots of typos. However, there are still plenty of mistakes that aren’t picked up by the spellchecker. So don’t assume your work is error-free just because you’ve used the F7 key.
#2 Get a Second Pair of Eyes on Your Writing
Ask someone else to read your text. A friend, colleague or family member can spot mistakes that your eyes glance over. Ideally, try and ask a fellow writer or a bookworm; they’ll be more inclined to help.
#3 Read It Out Loud and Slowly
By reading your work aloud and at a slow, controlled pace, your brain is less likely to auto-correct mistakes. You’ll be more likely to find missing words, get a better feel for the flow, and see if you need to step up your punctuation.
#4 Work from a Paper Copy
Reading from paper is much easier than working from your computer screen – and it’s better for your eyes and your concentration. And you get to use a red pen and play teacher (or is it just me who likes doing that?).
#5 Use a Ruler & Check Line By Line
The key to catching every mistake is to work slowly and focus on each word and line fully. One way of doing just that, is to take a ruler and go through your text one line at a time.
#6 Keep it Consistent
Make sure the way you spell words, names, places etc are all consistent in your text. Is your formatting uniform? Do your chapter headings use numbers or words and are they all the same?
#7 Do Several Separate Proofs
Sorry to break the bad news but proofreading your work isn’t just a one-round-and-you’re-out process. First you should focus only on your spelling. Next look for any inconsistencies, then check your formatting, and double-check those chapter headings.
#8 Partner Up With a Proofreading Pal
Working with someone else makes the proofreading process much easier. So grab a pal, and maybe a cup of tea and some really nice biscuits (bribery will be required at this stage – so you should go all out for choccy Hob Nobs), and get started. Let one person read aloud while the other person follows with their copy. This way any missing lines or paragraphs or mistakes will be much easier to spot.
#9 Check That Your Chapter Numbers Are In Sequence
During the writing process, you may have worked out of sequence and added new chapters and paragraphs at a later date. So it’s important to make sure your chapter numbers haven’t gone skewwhiff. An easy way to do this is to use the Find and Replace tool in Word (CTRL+F) and just search for the word ‘Chapter’. You’ll be able to do a quick check down the navigation menu from there without it all getting too cumbersome and time-consuming.
#10 If You Work from a Screen, Zoom In
If you are working from your screen, rather than on paper, increase the zoom size. It makes it much easier to focus on each line individually.
And remember, if you want to make a great impression and you prefer to call in the experts, just let me know.