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Proofreading Tips to Put Your Best Book Forward

POSTED BY prbythebook ON March 2, 2015

5034760960_2a16bf717c_oby Guest Blogger, Jill Ronsley of Sun Editing & Book Design@JillRonsley

When you have finished writing your manuscript and the editing has been done, it’s time to proofread.

Again, when the typesetting is done and before you send the book to the printer or e-book formatter, proofread. Sometimes authors don’t realize that they must re-read at this stage, and they neglect to factor in the time required for it.

Here are 10 tips to help your proofreading succeed:

1. Read your manuscript aloud. You will hear the words and sentences, and since you won’t skim any passages as you might do by reading in silence, you will be more likely to catch errors.

2. Read slowly enough to notice every punctuation mark, but fluidly so the reading does not sound choppy.

3. Make two copies and team up with someone else. Two pairs of eyes usually see more than one.

4. Listen for words that occur too frequently in a given passage and change them.

5. Use the dictionary. If any doubt arises about the spelling or meaning of a word, no matter how familiar, look it up.

6. Check the accuracy of facts, dates, and numbers. Double-check the spelling of proper nouns.

7. Look for grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors.

8. Don’t forget the front matter, including the title page and copyright page. Examine tables, footnotes, and captions. Review all the back matter.

9. When you have finished, wait a week and proofread again. Invariably, a little time clears your mind, enabling you to read from a fresh perspective.

10. If you make many changes, proofread again. You are likely to make a few more revisions.

When you proofread the typeset manuscript, in addition to applying the tips outlined above, make sure the headers are correct and that the chapter numbers and titles are in the right font and are correctly positioned. Check the table of contents against the first page of each chapter to ensure that the page numbers are right. Re-read the copyright page.

The main difficulty for an author proofreading his or her own work is that he is too close to the writing. Like an editor, an experienced proofreader with a keen eye will question things that you might not consider.

Proofreading is your last chance to catch errors before your readers and book reviewers do. It will help you publish your best book and move forward with pride.

JILL RONSLEY, editor, book designer, and e-book formatting specialist, has worked on many award-winning books, from nonfiction to novels and children’s books. She wrote the highly acclaimed 10 Steps to Publish & Succeed: How to Put Your Best Book Forward to help independent publishers and writers achieve publishing success. Her book won 1st Place in the Writer’s Digest 22nd Annual Self-Published Book Awards, 2014. Visit her at

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