Proofreading advice: print it off

When you are ready to start proofreading your writing, print it off. You will be surprised by how much easier it is to spot errors on paper than on a screen.

https://pixabay.com/en/writing-write-person-paperwork-828911/Make sure the text is black and that colours are only used when appropriate. (Refer to your style guide if you aren’t sure what is appropriate.) When you mark corrections using a colour pen, the corrections will stand out best against black text and on white paper.

Physical distance makes it easier to spot errors in format, style and layout. Hold the pages out in front of you, pin or stick them to a board, or ask someone to hold them up for you. Don’t forget to check the pages against each other for any inconsistencies.

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18 thoughts on “Proofreading advice: print it off

  1. I print it out, lug it around with me and work on it everywhere through each stage of the revision. When it’s polished to my satisfaction, I send it to eagle eyes who will print it out and read it slowly to catch all the things I’ve missed the 100 times I go through it… and then it goes to the publisher’s editor. Not before. The temptation is to rush the process, but a good book needs to steep like a good tea.

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    • I wish I had an answer! There’s a discussion of this topic here: http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2007/08/21/editing-on-paper/. It’s an old post but there are some interesting theories in the comments. I would be very interested in any other theories that might be floating about – I’m sure there must be some research on it somewhere.
      And yes, you are right. The choice of font or a simple font change can make a world of difference!

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      • Of course there is a discussion. I love that. Thanks for the link. I just want to start throwing around the “Broca’s/Wernicke’s area” in casual conversation, but really, I liked the idea of needing a physical location for the text. I am amazed how I can go back to a book I read ages ago and remember where in the thickness of the book I read something. Great post!

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      • I liked that idea too. And I think, for me, it is often less strain on the eyes. Comfortable eyes are error-spotting eyes. I’m glad you found the link and post interesting. 🙂

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  2. So very true. I read. re-read. Edited re-edited. And last month when I had cause to look at the first book I had self-published- there glaring out with mockery on Page 2 (no less) a typo!…(Oh that, that too, too solid paper would’ve crumble unto dust before I had return(ed) to its deceitful lines…)

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