I estimate it takes 40 hours to seriously proofread an 80,000 word novel. It’s a daunting task, so here are some tips to get you through it.
At least this is the process that works for me.
1) PASS ONE: Read entire novel or short story before proofreading.
Why is this step important? I find if I don’t allow myself time to read, especially if it’s a good story, I don’t concentrate on proofreading, and I get engaged in the story.
I allow myself to jot quick comments as I read, but try not to do too much at this stage. Once I’ve done this, I can concentrate on the detailed proofreading.
2) PASS TWO: Check Basic Formatting:
Before checking for formatting, I get the document into a format that works for me. I:
- Zoom in on the document. I go to the largest size my screen can take. This enables me to see each mark on the page.
- Turn paragraph marking on. This allows me to see paragraph breaks and extra spaces.
- Go into review mode and turn on track changes.
- I’m heavy on the comments. When I make a change, if it’s not obvious why, I tell the author by using the comment function.
Things I check and correct (make consistent) during PASS TWO:
- Are all chapter headings formatted the same?
- Are the headers and footers formatted the same?
- Do the same number of lines appear before and after each heading?
- Is each chapter heading in same font and size?
- Are italics consistently used?
- Are paragraph indents formatted the same?
- Does the first paragraph of each section or chapter have 0 indents, while the rest are consistent?
- Are there any double or triple spaces between words?
- Are there any double spaces after a period?
- Are times formatted the same – am, a.m. AM?
- Is the spacing between ellipses consistent (. . . and not …)?
I check these things because I think it gives the manuscript a professional feel. It shows the author took the time to check the details, even the ones that are boring to check.
I don’t like to write long blogs, so I’ll publish part two of The Proofreading Process on Thursday. So yup, you guessed it. There is a pass three.
I hope this helps your proofreading. :)