Proofreading is the bane of many a writer’s job. Sure, when you’ve finished your literary masterpiece, you will be itching to get it to print. But before you can do that, you have to take care of this pesky chore. Whether you enlist the help of an editor or otherwise, proofreading helps you avoid any embarrassing errors slipping through the net.
Ready to cast an eye over your work? Fortunately enough, the experts at Author Solutions have you covered. The team recently shared their top ten tips to help you get started. So, before you grab your red Biro and proofread your work, here’s what you should know.
1. Read your work aloud
One of the most common mistakes people make when proofreading is doing it in their head. When you’re simply scanning the page for errors, you may overlook typos and missing words. That’s because your brain often reads what it expects to see. You may find that it automatically fills in the blanks. This is less likely to happen when you read it aloud.
2. Let someone else read your work
Do you have someone you can trust your manuscript with? The experts at Author Solutions recommend letting someone else read your work. If you’ve been working on this piece for months or even years, you will be all-too familiar with the text. That means that you may not be able to see errors or mistakes. Let someone else check it too.
3. Try reading your work backward
Here’s a handy proofreading tip that you may not know. Reading your work backward could help you to pick up on any spelling mistakes, according to the team at Author Solutions. When you stop reading words as part of a whole sentence and simply focus on one word at a time, you can quickly see any errors you may have made.
4. Print it out and read it
If you tend to proofread your work on a computer screen, here’s a quick tip that will help you out. Try printing out your work and reading it as a paper copy instead. According to the experts at Author Solutions, this simple hack helps you to ‘focus entirely on proofreading, without the temptation to make creative changes’. Give it a whirl.
5. Take a break from the work
Proofreading your work immediately after you have completed it could be a mistake. Whenever possible, you should take a break from your manuscript and do something else. The Author Solutions team suggests leaving a few days between completing your manuscript and proofreading it. That way, you can return to it later with fresh eyes.
6. Use a spell checker
Chances are, whatever word processing software you use, you will have a spell checker. When you have finished writing, you should use this feature as the first defense against spelling mistakes. However, ensure that it is not the only way that you proofread your work. The software can help you identify any spelling mistakes you may have missed.
7. Get a dictionary and style guide
Do you have the right resources to help you proofread your work? When you’re undertaking this task, you should make sure that you have a dictionary, a thesaurus, a style guide, and a grammar guide by your side. Whenever you come unstuck, you can use these books to help you find the right word or ensure that a sentence structure is correct.
8. Understand your weaknesses
We all have weaknesses in our creative work. Getting to understand yours will help make the proofreading process smoother. For example, you may find that you continuously spell the same types of words incorrectly. On the other hand, you might make the same grammatical error time and time again. The experts at Author Solutions recommend making a list of your weaknesses. You can reflect on it when proofreading your work.
9. Check your facts!
Proofreading is not simply about ensuring that the spelling is correct. This process is also a chance to fine-comb your work. Use it to check all of the facts, figures, and dates within your work. Of course, this is especially important if you are writing a piece of nonfiction. However, if you’re working on fiction, you may have included real-life incidents, such as historic events. When reading your work, take a moment to check these facts.
10. Read it more than once
Think proofreading is a one-time event? Think again. As the experts at Author Solutions explain, you should proofread your manuscript several times. Each time you do so, have a different focus in mind. The first time you proofread your work, you may be looking for spelling problems. The second time you may look for grammar and the third you might look for factual issues. Dealing with one issue at a time helps you keep your focus clear. It means that you are more likely to notice potential pitfalls and rectify them swiftly.
As all writers know, proofreading can be a long and laborious task. However, it is also a vital part of the creative process. You’ve worked so hard on your manuscript. The last thing you want is to fall at the final hurdle! Set aside the time to proofread your work. It could be the difference between an award-winning book and one that’s left on the shelf.
About Author Solutions
Boasting more than 22 years of collective experience, Author Solutions is a well-known self-publishing company, with a variety of imprints. Since the company started, the team has helped publish 300,000 books. Helping writers realize their dreams of becoming authors, the publishing experts offer world-class care and support from start to finish.
Over the years, Author Solutions has helped many writers jump from self-publishing to film optioning or traditional publishing. With strong industry relations and a wealth of in-house support, the company provides opportunities for emerging authors. To date, five books published by Author Solutions have been the inspiration for movies.