Paul Simon sang about the 50 ways to leave your lover. I've found 50 ways to mess up my own books. How about you?
- Factual errors
- Spelling errors
- Grammar errors
- Words or dates you meant to fill in "later" but didn't
- Wrong typefaces, particularly when text is pasted-in from another source
- Commas that should be periods—and vice versa
- Straight punctuation that should be curly "typographers' marks"
- Curlies that curl in the wrong direction
- Missing spaces between paragraphs or sections
- Flush-left justification that should be full justification
- Bad justification in the last line of a page
- Chopped-off descenders where you decreased line spacing (leading) or if the bottom of a text box is too close to the text
- Wrong-size bullets
- Text not aligned at tops of pages. (Professional page formatters try to align tops and bottoms.)
- Too-big word spacing
- Normal letters that should be ligatures (more for large type than in body text)
- Accidental spaces after bullets
- Improper hyphenation
- Misaligned numbers in a list
- Roman text that should be italic, and vice versa
- Normal text that should be boldface, and vice versa
- Ignoring highlighted warnings in MS Word
- Automatically accepting MS Word suggestions
- Gray text that should be black
- Insufficient space adjacent to images
- Images or text boxes that floated over the margin
- Images or text boxes that 'slid' down and covered up footers
- Missing periods at sentence ends
- Missing opening or closing quote marks
- Missing page numbers
- Pages with numbers that should not show numbers (blind folios)
- Periods that should be inside a closing parentheses—or outside
- Repeated words
- Wrong headers, missing headers, switched verso and recto headers
- Subheads that are too close to the text above and too far from the text below
- Too much space between lines in a multi-line title, chapter name or subhead
- Inconsistencies such as 3pm on one page and 3 P.M. on another
- Inaccurate internal referrals such as "see comments on page 164"
- Words that shifted from the bottom of one page to the top of the next page
- Chapter names and page numbers in the table of contents that don't reflect a change made in the actual chapter name or the first page of the chapter
- Chapters missing from the TOC
- A topic not in the index because you added something after completing the index
- Words that should have been deleted but were not
- Names that were changed in some places but not in all places
- Paragraphs that accidentally merged
- Missing photo or illustration credits
- Credits for deleted photos or illustrations
- Photos or illustrations accidentally flipped left-to-right
- Wrong ISBN or other information on the copyright page
Here are some sad rules of life in book publishing:
(1) The bigger the book, the more errors it will have.
(2) Every time you try to correct an error, you risk creating more errors.
(3) If you strive for perfection, you will never complete the book.
(4) No book is perfect.
(5) Errors will be caught by readers, reviewers and nitpickers like me.