Recently, I had a professor critique a mystery I’ve been trying to get published. I’ve been working on this mystery for over four years. I’ve read it, re-read it, had others read it, and still there were omissions of punctuation. Nothing major, but still omissions nonetheless.
So, I set out to find some helpful tips about how to find those buggers before it hits the publishers’ desk. I thought I’d share them with you.
1. Always print your manuscript out in its entirety: Reading it on the screen is very different than reading a hard copy. Pull out a ruler and cover preceding sentences so your eyes are totally focused on one sentence at a time thereby making it easier to catch errors.
2. Read it twice: The first time, read it slowly to make sure the sentence makes sense and you haven’t left anything out. Read the second time for grammatical or structural errors. Now I know some of these manuscripts are pretty long, so doing this in increments is a good rule of thumb to follow.
3. Pay special attention to edited sentences: Oh yeah, on this one. I always reread an edited sentence on my monitor to see if it makes sense, but again, reading it from a hard copy is as if my printer has jumbled the words when no one was looking. It’s amazing how different the reading is in hard copy.
4. Reading your sentences backwards: This works extremely well for picking up errors. Interestingly, I know this method, and yet I haven’t applied it to my own work. Hmm, I’m seeing a pattern here.
5. Read your manuscript from the bottom up: This method actually works best for grammatical and technical errors, not so much for content or organization.
6. Finally, grab a partner and read aloud from the computer while the partner is following from the hard copy. This is a double win making it easier for you to edit your work at the same time.
What methods do you use for proofreading?