Last year, I began doing proofreading work for a publisher. Proofreading examines a previously edited manuscript to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling.
At the proofreading stage, the manuscript has already been thoroughly edited by other industry professionals. This means I rarely find too many mistakes—only minor errors here and there. This is great for me because it’s almost as if I’m simply reading a book for enjoyment!
Although I had previously been more of a content editor, I love the proofreading work. In addition, it has assisted me in other areas of my editing business because it helps me understand how added spaces or incorrect formatting can affect a final manuscript. Since I’ve started proofreading, I’ve noticed I look for these types of errors while I’m completing other edits as well. I pass these corrections on to my clients so they can ensure their manuscript is ready for publication.
Here are a few items to look for and correct within your manuscript.
Additional spaces after a period. This one is standard and should be done by every editor, in my opinion. Most writers type more than one space after a period at least once in their manuscripts. Additional spaces can be easily found and corrected using the Find/Replace tool in Word.
Spaces before a paragraph return. I have discovered that almost every author (or at least the ones I’ve worked with) will sometimes press their space bar before the enter key when they want to start a new paragraph. This can cause some issues with formatting so I will utilize the Find/Replace tool again in Word to find this issue throughout the document and correct it. Simply click the “special” pull down menu within the Find/Replace menu and choose “paragraph mark.” In the Find section, you’ll see a caret before the letter P. Put a space before that and Word will find all the spaces before any paragraph marks in your document.
Chapter headings. Most of the publishers I work for do not want the manuscript’s chapter headings to have any indent. I choose each chapter heading and ensure I set it to left justified without any indents.
The red underline. In Microsoft Word, misspelled words are underlined in red with a squiggly line. It’s easy to skim through your document and catch those words thanks to that red line. Remember, it might just be a word that the program is unfamiliar with or one you’ve made up (especially if you’re a fantasy writer), so make sure you know which word you truly want. Utilize Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary to check any words of which you’re unsure.
Editing encompasses so much more than these four things, of course, but every author can take these small steps toward creating the cleanest manuscript they can before sending it off to an editor. But even if you do, I’ll still check!
Sue started out as a devotion writer, but now also claims the titles of editor, proofreader, webmistress, and blogger. She has written and self-published three books as well as helped a variety of authors get their manuscripts into readers’ hands. Sue loves working with clients who are working toward the greater good of sharing God’s message in this world. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a free sample edit. Check out her website for testimonials: suessimplesnippets.wordpress.com