Want to learn how to proofread a manuscript?

Proofreading a manuscript before turning it into a book, after the completion of our writing and when all revisions are completed, is imperative. This is because most times we are oblivious to our own errors in grammar, sentence structures, paragraphing, incoherent sentences, wrong word choice, spelling errors or the devil’s ink (typing errors).

No matter how proficient you are in writing, you cannot escape some of those flaws, and as such need a thorough proofing of your manuscript before taking it to the publisher.  Though most people tend to confuse proofreading for editing, they are clearly different and both have their roles in the process of birthing a quality book.

Proofreading is the process of examining a manuscript critically for a grammar check, style, punctuation, clarity, sentence formation, and so on. In this article, I will show you ways you can proofread a manuscript, but before then, let us see why it is important to proofread manuscripts.

The importance of proofing a book

Proofing a book before taking it to the publisher makes a writer not only appear professional, it makes the book stand out after publication.  More so, proofing a manuscript enables writers to see their flaws and correct them. Just like a woodwork without buffing and polishing cannot be considered a finished product, writing a book without proofreading gives your manuscript writing blemishes.

Now that you are familiar with the importance of proofing a book, let’s proceed to the various ways to proofread a manuscript, especially if you are the writer.

How to Proofread a Manuscript

  1. Do not proofread your manuscript immediately after the writing stage: While you may be too eager to get your book published immediately after writing, you should never rush to do the proofreading. Except you are engaging a professional proofreader, do not proofread your manuscript immediately after the writing stage. This is because as the writer, you are too immersed and familiar with the writing that you may not really notice any flaw. To resolve this, you should detach yourself from the manuscript completely; engage in other activities to help you get distracted, before revisiting your book for the proofing.
  1. Stay away from distraction zones: Proofreading requires adept concentration, and as such, you should stay clear from distraction-inclined areas, like places close to a TV set, or discussion group, rather look for a quiet place that will enable you to concentrate fully on the manuscript you are working on.
  1. Change your script design: Before you start your proofing, you should change the design of your manuscript.  That is, the font style, size, colour, and so on to give your book an entirely new look. This will help you put yourself in the position of a reader and no longer as the writer since your manuscript now has an unfamiliar layout.
  1. Do your proofreading in stages: No matter how time conscious you are, do not try to resolve all types of errors at once; rather do your proofreading in different stages. You can start with the ‘spell check’ to correct all errors in spelling. A spell checker can be used, but it should, however, not be relied upon, for instance, a spell checker app won’t detect the error in ‘sun’ when actually it’s ‘son’ you had in mind while writing. So it is always better if you read carefully with the help of a dictionary to help you look up any confusing spelling as well. When you are done with the spell check, the next is to run a grammar check, especially to help you checkmate errors in verb agreement, then proceed to check if there is an issue with the style, and paragraph structure.
  1. Read and treat each sentence separately: Reading a whole paragraph at once might prevent you from sighting errors or redundant words, phrases or clauses that needed to be replaced, so you should read and treat each sentence individually.
  1. Finally, you should get a professional proofreader to proofread your manuscript. If you’re looking for a professional proofreader, SOI Publishing renders this service efficiently.
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What other ways do you know about how to proofread a manuscript?


Chima Rachael, J.