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Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Two)

Today’s blog focuses on a list you can create to help you copyedit.

Creating a list is part of my process when reading another author’s manuscript. I use the list for my work too, but if you’ve edited your own writing, you’ll know how hard it is to find your mistakes.

Before I start – thank you to the people who pointed out the difference between proofreading and copyediting. Their definitions are in the comments of Proofreading (Part One). Also, thanks to everyone else for their comments. I had fun reading them all.

Monday’s blog took us part way through the second reading of a manuscript, but there’s still work to do on this pass.

While reading the manuscript for the second time, I create a list that includes:

  • Words with hyphens or words I think should have a hyphen.

While writing a novel, it’s easy for an author to forget which format they used for a word. It’s better to keep word formats consistent, which can be difficult, especially when the dictionary offers a choice or two dictionaries disagree with each other.

  • Words that are easy to type incorrectly, but the spell checker won’t find the error. There are many, so here are a few examples:

It’s/its

Their/there

Hear/here

Heard/herd

Where/were

Then/than

Then/the

This list grows with each new manuscript I read. Heard/herd came from the manuscript I’m currently editing.

  • Words that are spelt differently in Canadian or American spelling. This is hard to catch because some spell checkers allow both forms.  A difficult situation occurs if the author uses a Canadian spelling for one word and American for another.  For example:

My pyjamas are the color of green olives. Pyjamas is in Canadian spelling. Color is in American.

Search for words that can be spelt with ‘ou’ or ‘o’ and words where a consonant may or may not be doubled, such as:

Favourite/favorite

Travelling/Traveling

  • Words that can be spelt (spelled in the USA) two ways.

Toward/Towards

Backward/Backwards

Both are correct, but again consistency is important.

But what do you do with this list?

Even if you have read the manuscript in printed form, this is the point where a computer can help you eliminate errors.

In whatever word processing program you use, turn tracking on. Search the manuscript for each word in the list you’ve created during your second reading and make the appropriate changes. The author can decide to accept or reject the changes when he/she reads the suggested corrections.

Call me crazy, but I thought I was going to finish this subject in two blogs. We’re still not on to the third reading, but we’re getting there.  My next post on copyediting will be on Monday.

If you have any tips to share, I’d love to add them to my process.

Thanks for reading . . .

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About Kristina Stanley

www.KristinaStanley.net

18 responses »

  1. Kristina – Nice list. In my list of “real words that are the wrong words,” I search for “form/from” a lot, too…seems to be my own personal bugaboo.

    And, this isn’t 100% on topic, but I use the “Add to Dictionary” and “Ignore” feature in MS Word to stop the software from picking up odd character and place names as mistakes in my manuscript. If I don’t do that, then those words get flagged so frequently that I start ignoring Spellcheck completely…and then miss things like “teh” and “tihng.”

    Reply
  2. Interesting that the Canadian and American spellings are also different! I will have to keep that in mind. :)
    These posts are quite enlightening! Thank you for sharing them.

    Reply
  3. Katharine E Carter

    I am British and also use the spellings in two different ways. However, I am pleased to say that my computer corrects my “English”

    Reply
    • Katherine, I’ve figured out how to set my spell checker now. I’ve got it set to Canadian English and this seems to work well. Once I started noticing the different spellings, it became a game of sorts to find the American/Canadian/British words. I’ve been using non-Canadian spellings without realizing it.

      Reply
  4. SF and I read our manuscripts but are guilty of auto translating and miss errors. Then we have the computer read it to us. Ouch … it reads exactly what is there. OK the word “read” is only pronounced one way but we live with it. Reading out loud helps a lot, especialy if there is a pause and no comma present. Misspelled words come across strange when the computer reads it also and it can be a wake up call. All of this is done before we send it to editing.
    I am learning from your blog. Thank you for writing it.

    Reply
  5. Dern I’m not even sure if my eyes would pick up something like toward or towards

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Thursday Thought ~ The Importance of Correct Spelling | J. Keller Ford ~ YA Fantasy Author

  7. Pingback: How do you spell Dreidel? Shame on you Microsoft! | Jennifer M Eaton

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