Hello, and welcome to How To Wednesday.
After a few weeks of neglecting my poor blog, I decided to return with a How To that I hope many will find useful, How To Proofread Your Manuscript.
Firstly, let me give my opinion on this subject. You need a professional proofreader!
I know many will tell you, you don’t, and it’s more important to, get your work out there. Personally, I think this is wrong for a number of reasons.
1. No one can spot all their own mistakes.
2. The last thing you want is for your first review to be a bad one because of incorrect grammar.
3. No matter how good your grammar is, I promise you, there will be mistakes.
I can name many more reasons, but I won’t. This post is not about telling you, you must have a proofreader. It’s about helping you if you really have no way of saving up for one. So putting my personal opinion aside, I decided to compile a list of all the useful advice I managed to find while figuring out how to get my manuscript proofread. Even if you do plan to use a professional, I think it’s still wise to use, at least some of, these steps. It widens your own knowledge, makes the professional’s job easier, and in some cases, even saves you money.
So, we will kick off with the easiest step.
Use a spell checker. Most writing programs will have them built in but its very easy to forget about them. I do find the grammar checker doesn’t tend to be too good on them, but at least you can eliminate a lot of typo’s
Get someone else to look at your work. Preferably someone you know has good grammar skills. I know, I have bad grammar, which is evident in my blog posts, so in my case, anyone is better than myself. But, I advise going through your address book. This could be a great time to reconnect with that old friend who became a school teacher. Always keep in mind, there is no substitute for the human eye.
Use a free grammar checker. There are many of these available if you simply search for them. The first one I used was Grammarly.This Free program can be used online and downloaded as a Word plugin (I love this feature.) Just, set up whether you want American or British English, on the website, and away you go. It also has a handy feature where you can add words to the dictionary. This is especially useful to me, as I write Sci-fi, a lot of names are made up. I will warn you that this program is not perfect. It does not spot all mistakes and sometimes will try to get you to change things that are already correct, and also, it disables Words built in spell checker, but for a freebie, it’s not bad.
Another program I use is Slick Write. This program is used online but has some features that Grammarly lacks. With Slick Write, you copy and paste your document into the online checker and not only will it check the grammar and spelling, it will also point out repeated starting words, adverbs, phrasing and passive voice, along with telling you the word count, readability, read time, and a number of other things. Although it lacks the handy dictionary feature that Grammarly has, it still has a lot of advantages. As with Grammarly, it’s not perfect but still not bad.
I, personally, use Grammarly in Word as I type and then use Slick Write after. There are lots of other programs out there that can be found by a simple search.
Okay, so you have asked someone else and exhausted grammar checkers. I hate to break it to you, but there are probably still errors that have been missed so what’s next?
Now you need to check it again yourself, but just reading it won’t work. You know what the manuscript is supposed to say so you brain will automatically read it the way its supposed to be read. You need to make your brain think about what it’s reading. I’ve found a lot of advice on how to do this so here is a round-up of suggestions I’ve found.
- Read, your work out loud. A lot of people say this method is brilliant. For me, it wasn’t. Firstly, it’s hard to read out loud in my house and when I did get the chance, I still read it exactly as it was supposed to be read. I needed to think about the writing more, but for some, it works.
- Change the font. Using a different font that isn’t as easy to read, helps you focus more.
- Make your font bigger, and when I say bigger, I mean BIGGER. In Word, I normally have my font at 140%. Taking it to 250% means I have to concentrate a lot more on what I’m reading and it slows me down since my eyes can’t just skim over the page, I have to scroll across to read the whole line.
- Change the font colour. My font is usually black. making it a lighter brighter colour, like green, makes you read the document differently, allowing you to spot more mistakes.
- Read your work on a different device or in printed format. Looking at the text on something new, usually, helps you see things you missed. I’ve often found, if I format my work and read it on my kindle, I spot missed speech marks and full stops that before I never noticed. This also works on my blog posts. When reading them on my phone, after publishing, I always spot mistakes.
- Read your work backwards. This is a very long and slow process and can be extremely tedious, but it works. Starting from the back and reading each sentence enables you to focus more on the writing and less on the words as your not caught up in the story.
So there you have it, some simple things you can do to proofread your own work. I still believe that it’s always best to get a professional and be assured, there are cheap services out there if you look hard enough, but if you really don’t have that option, hopefully, these suggestions will help you.
Until next time,