Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sometimes it's better to look at a book,
and not read it

Here's a proofreading tip I discovered that should be useful. After you've read your new masterpiece 70 or 183 times, sit a bit farther back from your screen and LOOK at the pages--don't read them.You'll probably be amazed at all of the errors you detect when you are not concerned with content, meaning and story-telling artistry.

I aim my eyes at the three-o'clock position and maker a clockwise scan on each page, but do what works best for you.

Check your book for these bloopers:
  1. Wrong fonts, particularly when text is pasted-in from another source
  2. Commas that should be periods--and vice-versa
  3. Straight punctuation that should be curly "typographers' marks"
  4. Curlies that curl in the wrong direction
  5. Missing spaces between paragraphs or sections
  6. Bad justification in the last line of a page
  7. Chopped-off descenders where you decreased line spacing or if the bottom of a text box is too close to the text
  8. Wrong-size bullets
  9. Rivers
  10. Too-big word spacing
  11. Normal letters that should be ligatures (more for large type than in body text).
  12. Accidental spaces after bullets
  13. Improper hyphenation
  14. Roman text that should be italic, and vice-versa
  15. Ignoring highlighted warnings in MS Word.
  16. Automatically accepting MS Word suggestions
  17. Gray text that should be black.
  18. Insufficient space adjacent to images
  19. Images or text boxes that floated over the margin.
  20. Images or text boxes that "slid' down and covered up footers
  21. Missing periods at sentence ends
  22. Missing opening or closing quote marks.
  23. Periods that should be inside a closing parentheses--or outside.
  24. Repeated words caught by the software
  25. Wrong headers, missing headers, switched verso and recto headers
  26. Subheads that are too close to the text above and too far from the text below
  27. Too much space between lines in a multi-line title, chapter name or subhead
  28. Pages with numbers that should not show nunbers ("blind folios")
  29. Words that shifted from the bottom of one page to the top of the next page
  30. And one that does require reading: chapter names in the table of contents that don't reflect a change made in the actual chapter
  31. And another: a topic not in the index because you added something after completing the index


  1. This is a great list, Michael. It would be useful for anyone doing their own book production.

  2. Guilty as charged. Keeping this for my new dog book!

    I have trouble putting my comas, errr, commas, in the right place.

  3. To Unfaithful:

    #12 happened with your name on my "thanks" page in the book you made me write.

  4. Thanks Michael! A great list.. sharing on
    Collaborate, Create, Publish

  5. Very useful list, thank you. What are rivers?

  6. Fantastic list, thank you. Just came a bit too late! Seems the biggest problem is that as you fix one thing it can cause another to go awry. I noticed several months after publication that every second page number was missing. How did that happen? Messing about with sections I think.

    By the way, what are rivers?