The craft and business of writing and self publishing

The Most Common Editing and Proofreading Mistakes That Writers Usually Make

By Gloria Kopp

In today’s marketplace, getting your work out there is often considered more crucial than checking it for errors first. As good as it feels to be the first with a new story, though, it’s embarrassing when readers pick up on the mistakes you made in your haste to get published. Here’s the most common errors writers make when proofreading and editing, and how to avoid them.

Getting too familiar with the content

Have you actually read over your writing and decided it looks fine, only to spot a glaring error once it’s gone live? It’s thanks to your brain filling in the gaps in your writing without you knowing it. For example, if you write the word ‘liaise’ but actually mistype it as ‘liase’, your brain will fill in the missing ‘i’ for you, meaning you miss the spelling error.

The best way around this is to make yourself less familiar with the content. If you’re writing in Word, paste it into a different program to make the writing format differently. You can also change fonts and size to make it look different.

Thinking spell check will catch everything

Spell check is a handy tool on most text editors, and will catch a great deal of spelling errors on its first pass. However, it isn’t infallible. As great as it is, it can’t pick up on words that are used incorrectly, as if they’re spelled correctly the tool deems it correct. For example, it would bypass ‘The apples are kept over their’, as ‘their’ is spelled correctly.

To avoid this, you’ll have to read your work carefully before you publish. Go over every word carefully, to ensure you’ve used the right one in every case.

Not checking that words are being used properly

Poor grammar can be the death knell for your writing. If you’re finding that you often confuse ‘it’s’ with ‘its’, or ‘you’re’ with ‘your’, you’ll be finding those errors popping up again and again in your work.
Online writing tools can help considerably in reducing these errors. Here’s some to try:

Hemingway App: Paste your work into this app and any errors will be highlighted for you instantly, making it easier to edit. If you’re the kind of person who likes to highlight when studying, this app’s for you.
Boom Essays: A team of highly qualified writers can help you proofread your work to make it publication ready. It’s an easy way to get a second opinion on your work.
Readability Score: As it says, this tool will give you a readability score, showing you how easy it is to understand your piece. Very useful when you’re trying to pitch your work at a certain audience.
Pro Writing Aid: Paste your work into this tool and it will give you a readability score, as well as showing any errors that need addressing. It’s a clean and simple tool to use, making editing and proofreading easy.
Smart Edit: This is a proofreading program that lives within Microsoft Word, making editing easier than ever. Great if you’re trying to get everything done within one program.
X Essays: This is a writing, editing and proofreading service staffed by highly competent writers. They’re also constantly evolving with the writers who work with them, so they know about the latest trends.

Forgetting to read your work out loud

Reading over your text quietly is a good way to pick out some errors you’ve made, but many writers forget that reading out loud is a sure fire way to spot any errors in the flow and coherence of your writing.
Once you’ve finished writing, read your text out loud, or even better, have someone else read it. You’ll be surprised at how easy it’ll be to spot mistakes in your work.

Skipping straight to editing

Many writers forget that editing and proofreading are not the same thing, and go straight to editing. However, if they make some substantial edits, then their work is exactly in the same state as it is before, and in dire need of proofreading.
Take the time to do both. Proofread what you have first, correcting errors and wording. Once you’ve done that, then start your edit process.

Now you have the right tools under your belt, get out there and start creating content that’s engaging and entertaining, as well as being grammatically and factually sound.

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Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an elearning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from University of Wyoming and started a career of creative writer. At present time she works as a freelance writer and editor. Besides, she is working on online writing course project that is going to be launched this autumn.

 

15 Responses to “The Most Common Editing and Proofreading Mistakes That Writers Usually Make”

  1. Hans-Jörg

    I ever thought that editing is happening before proofreading. Why should I correct minor mistakes in parts that might not survive editing? Why should I again proofread those parts that were not touched by editing?

    Can you elaborate on your choice of order?

    Reply
  2. roughseasinthemed

    This really is somewhat facile. Plus I agree with the commenter above. Proofreading is the final touch, in theory. This is really tips about how to edit yor work, not the most common mistakes.
    In actual fact, the most common five mistakes in my editing experience are wrong capitalisation, wrong hyphenation, missing/incorrect apostrophes, wrong punctuation around dialogue and confusing the verbs lay and lie.

    Reply
  3. LindaGHill

    I agree with the above comment – proofreading really needs to be the last step. If, in the editing process, sentences and paragraphs are added, they won’t be corrected otherwise.
    Thanks so much for the links! I’ll check them out. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Liz

    Along with Hemmingway, Grammarly, Pro-Writing Aid (though I don’t use them all together, just when I remember), Voice Dream app for IOS and Android has made my current works stronger. It’s a text to speech app that allows me to read my work out loud to me. Their companion app, Voice Dream Writer is for editing, where the work is read out loud and you can edit as you listen. Not all voices are equal and I purchased the voice of Sara, which is the same voice that Kindle Fire uses for their text to speech feature.

    Since my work is broken down into separate chapter files, I edit as I go, and that means correcting every grammatical and spelling mistake I can find (though I don’t find all of them) before moving on to the next chapter.

    Reply
  5. April Munday

    The tips about reading aloud and putting it into a different format in order to spot the errors are good. I’ve found errors that way that have been missed by other readers.

    Reply
    • Peter D Keim

      Agree Grammarly is an excellent tool, but it does give a lot of false positives, so you have to be very careful when using it. In particular, Grammarly messes up frequently on the use of commas, and its interpretation of word usage is sometimes breathtakingly weird.

      Reply
  6. Creativepubtalk

    Rather than pasting into another word processing format, much better for proofing and editing is to input your manuscript into the free Calibre programme and easily create an ePub (for Kobo) or Kindle draft version, then drag, drop and read the new file on your favourite eReader or tablet as an eBook. The format changes instantly, adjust line spacing, justification, margins and font to suit and go. Using highlight and notes for example on a Kobo reader you can capture detailed editing, then go back to your original manuscript, re-edit and do it again until satisfied. This process is powerful, writer-natural and far easier than reading a whole draft book out aloud.

    Reply
    • trixievardon

      Thanks for this idea. I’m going to give it a trial…I wouldn’t have thought of applying Gloria’s suggestion this way, but it makes good sense.
      Thanks again.

      Reply

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