Kath here. Please welcome Randall Davidson to WU. Randall is a cofounder of ProofreadingServices. Us, a proofreading company that offers manuscript proofreading. Randall was good enough to share his must-do proofreading tips and best practices with other writing enthusiasts. Thanks, Randall!
One of the hardest parts of writing is proofreading your own work. These 10 proofreading tips can help you learn how to distance yourself from your own work and discover your mistakes and issues with clarity.
- Put it away. Proofreading your novel immediately after you have written it can lead to overlooking even the most glaring errors simply because you read what you expect to read. Give yourself a few days or even weeks so that you can review your novel with fresh eyes.
- Ditch the distractions. Just as it is difficult to write with the phone ringing or people interrupting, it is also frustrating to try to proofread surrounded by distractions. Find a quiet place where you will be free from interruptions before starting the process.
- Take frequent breaks. Most people don’t read an entire novel in a single sitting, so you shouldn’t either. Proofread your novel in chunks of several chapters at a time so that you don’t miss errors due to fatigue.
- Use the assistance of others. Ask someone with a solid understanding of grammar and composition and a love of your chosen genre to read your novel and give you an unbiased opinion. Ask them for some of their best proofreading tips as well.
- Don’t rely too heavily on spelling and grammar checkers. They are handy tools and certainly have their place in writing, but they are far from infallible. There is simply no replacement for the human brain.
- Read your paragraphs or chapters out of order. This will switch things up just enough that your mind won’t remember what’s next and you’ll be more likely to catch those little trouble spots.
- Be aware of your most frequent errors. Do you misspell words when you are on a roll? Are you a comma abuser? Is your work dotted throughout with ellipses? Print reminders to yourself on Post-its and keep them handy so that you can reign in your most annoying habits.
- Check and recheck. Those sentences that already required revisions need to be double and triple-checked for errors. Errors in tense, spelling, or phrasing may have sneaked past you due to the original correction.
- Keep reference books handy. No one can possibly keep all the rules for grammar, punctuation, and spelling straight all the time. This is where thesauruses, dictionaries, and style books come into play. You should use them often.
- Read your novel aloud. Sometimes your ears will catch the errors that your eyes missed.
Proofreading may not be the most exciting step in the writing process, but it very well may be one of the most critical. Use these proofreading tips to ensure your novel is properly polished and ready for the next step toward publication.