Proofreading Your Manuscript

You’ve finished the first draft, edited, re-written, and maybe even edited some more. You’re satisfied with the results, and now it’s finally time to send your manuscript to a publisher. Or in the case of self-published writers, time to format and upload into various online retailers.

But before you do this, I think there is one final necessary step. Proofread. Yes, proofread—even though you may have already done this step with the first, second, or even a third draft.

I’ve learned from experience, proofreading using different methods will help flush out some of those missed typos and punctuation errors. Today, I’m going to share a few of the things I’ve used.

Print a copy of the entire manuscript. Yes, this can get expensive if you don’t have a laser printer. Ink cartridges aren’t long lasting, not to mention the cost of paper. Because I take pieces of my writing to a critique group, I decided to purchase an inexpensive laser printer. There are some good ones on the market for less than $200.00. If buying a printer isn’t an option, check with your local print shop for pricing. Spending a few dollars can be worth it for a cleaner manuscript.

Read the entire story aloud. I read sections each week at my writer’s group and often find that by reading aloud, I find errors that I didn’t catch when reading on the screen. No matter how careful I am, sometimes my brain reads what I want the words to say and not the ones I’ve written. Using text to speech software often helps to catch additional errors. There are a number of free apps available on the Internet, and newer versions of Microsoft Word have this feature.

Use online editing tools. My preference is Grammarly. It catches punctuation errors, passive voice, suggest alternative and overused words. It’s not perfect, but I find it to be better than Word’s spelling and grammar checker. Grammarly’s premium version also catches plagiarism.

If printing isn’t an option, try reading in a different format. I use Scrivener for writing, and it can format into ePub or Mobi files. Try reading the manuscript on your Kindle or Nook. You might be surprised at the errors you catch.

Have a trusted friend or critique partner read your draft. A second or even third set of eyes is helpful.

Even with all these methods, there are times when things slip through. After all, we are human. I’ve found typos in books published by one of the big name publishing companies. However, by taking the time to do a final check, we can eliminate many of these errors.

How about you? Do you have other proofreading methods you use? Please share in the comments.





  1. Joan, I read backwards. It takes time to be able to do this but I catch errors this way. I learned this while doing technical writing and editing.

  2. Great Tips.
    Thanks Joan!!

  3. Excellent advice, Joan! I also enjoy grammarly, though I haven’t used it in a while. Thanks for reminding me I still have tools in my author tool belt at my disposal! Sometimes when we don’t write for a while, our keys get rusty 😉

  4. I used to have AutoCrit, which I loved, but it’s become too expensive. Grammarly is good (better than Word or Scrivener); I have it on my laptop and it checks emails and blog posts. I think HemingwayApp is pretty good for fiction, and it’s free (or there’s a free version and a paid version). All great points here, Joan. Thanks.

    • I’ve never used AutoCrit, but I agree that Grammarly is much better than Word or Scrivener. I’ve tried the Hemingway App a time or two. (I think Stephanie Fishman uses and likes it.)

  5. A great post about proofreading, Joan. I normally let the ms set for a few days, then will do a read through on my computer and a final on my Kindle. I also read aloud as I work, looking not only for spelling errors and grammar problems, but the “music” of the words as well. And for some reason, when I get that final stage on my Kindle that really helps me catch things I may have missed otherwise!

    • I also let mine set for a few days. I was surprised at the errors I caught when reading on my Kindle. (After I had done a read through and made corrections in Word.

  6. Hi Joan,
    It is amazing what you as the author don’t pick up, no matter how careful you are. I am sending my next manuscript to a few trusted readers for their opinions first, then when I have done what I can I have an editor go over it with a fine-tooth comb. I am fortunate that my daughter has editor training which I am so grateful for as the cost would be great otherwise but it is so necessary. I love Grammarly as well. I have got it on Facebook and other sites like here for example. I haven’t worked out how to have it on Word to edit my manuscript though.

    • Julie, I haven’t installed it on Word either. I have the premium version, so I just import into Grammarly. You are fortunate to have a daughter with editor training. And yes, those trusted readers are so important. Thanks for stopping by today.

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