Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, December 06, 2011 14 comments
I am currently buried under an enormous pile of proofreading at my paying job, but I thought I'd pop over here with a recent insight from the experience.

Changing page layout will make a text read differently. I am always, always finding new errors when I proofread digest-sized pages of material that I'd already proofread on letter-sized pages. This is partly because the eye tracks differently on shorter lines. I've also noticed that some spatially-related issues like paragraphing (specifically, overly long blocks of text) are much more apparent on smaller pages.

I highly recommend that you do your final manuscript proofreading in a size other than letter size to give yourself fresh eyes. It's pretty simple to do this. Go to the "page layout" menu in Word, select "paper size" and choose "A5"--which is roughly digest size. When you're ready to print, open the print menu, go to the "pages per sheet" drop down menu in the bottom right, and select "2 pages."

You'll be surprised how different your manuscript looks--and how many errors slipped past you when you always saw pages in the same size draft after draft.

What other tricks do you have to give yourself a fresh perspective?

14 comments:

  1. Great post, and I agree. I actually formatted my manuscript and put it on an ereader at home, and wouldn't you know I realized how looooong my paragraphs were. I'm much more attuned to breaking up those paragraphs now.

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  2. That's a cool trick. I give it a try for sure.

    JEM, putting it in ereader form is good too.

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  3. What a fantastic tip! Thanks Laurel, and best of luck at the job :))

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  4. Interesting. I'll definitely give this a try. I recently realized that I catch different mistakes when I read silently in my head than when I read out loud. I think when I read silently, I tend to catch the typos and misspellings. When I read out loud, I tend to catch punctuation errors. It's weird how the two different approaches make my mind work in two different ways.

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  5. JEM: I haven't sprung for an ereader yet, but that is a good option for those who have one.

    Holly: Hope it helps!

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  6. Nicole: Hope it's helpful to you. Thanks for the well wishes. We have lots more British authors in the current issue, so I have to be extra vigilant, since they have different idioms, spelling and punctuation rules in some instances.

    Laura: Glad you found it helpful. Simple, but a good way to make the familiar new.

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  7. Susan: My most common problem is my brain fills in what I meant to write, so I omit words and fail to see that they are missing. Reading aloud helps for sure! The brain is a tricky beast, and sometimes we have to trick it to perform to its best capacity.

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  8. Laurel, I love your blog layout! So fresh and pretty. Seems like many bloggers have been giving their pages a makeover lately - you have all inspired me!

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  9. This is a GREAT idea! I will definitely have to try this. Thanks!

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  10. Wow! What a great tip, and very useful for my work. Thanks, Laurel! :o) <3

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  11. Thanks for some new ideas on proofreading. I'm linking to this in a future Friday Round-Up. :)

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  12. I just have to read it, word by word, without thinking of the bigger picture :)

    ........dhole

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  13. This is so true. I try to changing the print, but I think the font size would do the trick, too. Thanks for the tip!

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