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Proofreading: weeding out
typographical errors

Typographical errors (known as typos) are probably the most common gaffs you'll find. Everyone from the copy editor to the proofreader is looking for these little monsters, and no matter how many pairs of eyeballs are on the job, a few will still get through into the published version.

A computer spell checker will find most of them, but anyone still using a typewriter is particularly susceptible. Who's still using a typewriter? Older writers who scorn computers, younger people who can't afford one, anyone who has a computer that's broken down with the deadline right around the corner ... and writers with eye problems like macular degeneration, who must not, at all costs, look into a bright light. You'd be amazed how many typewriters are still out there, and still in use. Did you know Tom Hanks collects them? True!

However, computer users need not be too confident: computers are blind to an amazing number of booboos, and the human eye of the copy editor must find them. For example, you wanted the FIRST word in these pairs; your fingers typed the second. It's an error, but the computer won't see it:

Though ... through. Kneel ... kreel. Fine ... find. Fool ... foot. Root ... toot. Lean ... leak. Now ... not. Can ... car. Skim ... skip. Slim ... slip. Wound ... would. Deer ... deep. Then ... them. Bank ... band. Bought ... brought. Dropped ... dropper. Slipped ... slipper. Fond ... font. Like ... live. Mister ... master. Miss ... mist. Coasting ... boasting. Brawl ... yawl. Push ... lush. Boy ... box. Bright ... fright. Bathers ... fathers. Shout ... stout.

Typographical errors can produce some absolutely hilarious results. You can often have a good laugh, when you see what your fingers did all by themselves. (There are also some amusing Freudian slips).

Humor aside, get after those typos, weed them out. Get as many as you can, then have someone else apply a fresh pair of eyeballs to the manuscript. The more proofreaders "do" the book, the better it's going to be.

TIP: read slowly. Read the words, not the sentences, and definitely not the story. Read the last page in the manuscript first, and work your way through to the front. This makes sure you don't get caught up in the story and start reading, instead of proofreading.

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  1. Thanks, Jennifer! We're just launching it ... in fact, it's so new, we're still working on the layout. Come back soon!


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