Best Tips for Proofreading Manuscripts

Proofreading manuscripts is generally about making sure that a manuscript is error-free. Proofreading can be done by hiring the services of a professional proofreader or doing the work yourself. Whether you are writing a college essay, a magazine article, or an email to a client, having a text fee of mistake is essential (Get help for proofreading your manuscript).

What is Proofreading?

This simply refers to the process of re-reading your work or someone else’s piece of writing to catch grammatical errors, formatting errors, typos, and missing words.


Can You Proofread Yourself?

When it comes to proofreading manuscripts, you can either use a professional editor or do it yourself. Nevertheless, both choices come with their pros and cons.

  • Proofreading manuscripts when done by the author(s) of the same manuscript is cheaper and more cost-effective. The reason is due to the cost of hiring a professional proofreader. So if you are highly confident in your writing skills, and only have a short piece to deal with, then the process might not be time-consuming or too difficult.
  • Getting a professional proofreader to go through your work is easy and stress-free as professional editors come equipped with knowledge of the publishing industry, styles guides and are more capable of catching grammatical and spelling errors. If you are self-publishing a novel or need assistance with a longer work, your best bet might be to get a professional proofreader (Also read Is Hiring Manuscript Proofreading a Worthwhile Venture?).

Concentration Is Important

It is nearly impossible to spot all the mistakes in a manuscript or any piece of writing without concentration. To concentrate, you must away every form of distractions and potential interruptions. Turn off the radio or television and completely stay off your cell phone.

Put It on Paper

Since we are not all cut from the same fabric, we react differently and read differently too, especially on-screen and on paper. I still believe printing out a copy of your writing makes proofreading easier. You can also try reading aloud, your ears may catch errors that your eyes may have skipped.

Watch out for Homonyms

Homonyms are simply words that share the same pronunciation or spelling but do not mean the same things (Examples of homonymes). Switching complement with compliment, or accept with except could be disastrous, ensure you pay attention to them.

Watch out for Apostrophes and Contractions

This is another thing you will have to watch out for when you are proofreading manuscripts. People often mix it’s with it’s, you’re with your, their and they’re and so on.  This is very common and can hurt the credibility of your text. Another thing is, never forget that apostrophe is never used to form plurals.

Check the Punctuation

People sometimes make the mistake of focusing on words, neglecting punctuation. You must place the same emphasis on missing or extra commas, capitalized words, periods used incorrectly and so on.

Read Backwards

When reading through a written work, especially one that you wrote yourself, you can easily become blind to your mistakes since your brain automatically corrects wrong words and sentences. To break this, you can try reading the text backwards, word by word.

Check the Numbers

Stating that the value of an acquisition was $20,000 instead of $200,000 is not the same thing.

Get Someone Else to Proofread It.

When you’re through checking all the previous points, remember to get someone to proofread it for you. It can be a friend, your relative or colleague. You will be surprised at all the mistakes you’ve missed. A second person is in a better position than you in evaluating whether the sentences make sense or not.

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