1. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Proofreading Best Practices

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anthony Martin, Apr 30, 2013.

    Editing is a beast in and of itself, I know. What I am looking for is best practices in terms of the nitty-gritty, physical aspect of proofreading a manuscript. What are the standard symbols and markups for things like removing a sentence and replacing it with another, fixing tenses and word choice? Pencil or pen? I'd like to be consistent, even when editing my own work, so that I can be consistent and professional on the occasions that friends, colleagues and clients ask me to edit their work.
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look up "proofreading marks". There are set symbols which are fairly standard in the publishing world, although a lot of them concern the typesetting, which isn't very necessary for writer's edits. They are marks on the double-spaced manuscript the editor writes in, in dark black pencil. You can adapt them to suit, if your edits are just notes to yourself. I have to use an "error correction code" for marking student papers, and I now automatically use it for editing my own stuff.
     
  3. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I think the Chicago Manual of Style is still the standard. Here's a link to their list of editing symbols:

    http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_proof.html

    It's more for journalism than fiction, but I've used them before in my stories. As far as pen or pencil, I like to use a red pen.
     
  4. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are you looking to do this as a profession or just as a hobby/personal use? When in the workplace, many companies have house styles that you will have to follow. If it's for personal use, go with whatever you find most effective. I use 3 colors of ink and 4 colors of highlighter when I edit manuscripts. Each color has a significance to me and plays a purpose. Afterwards I'll prepare a separate document for the author detailing my recommendations in a clear manner.
     
  5. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    Thanks

    --Thank you! This is a useful guide to have around.
     
  6. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    I'd like to be proficient in either context, though I was more looking for a simple guide like the CMS one provided above. Regardless, your points are well taken and I like the idea of preparing a second document for the author.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Have a plan for each proofreading pass. Choose 3 to 5 aspects to focus on, like sentence structure, character voice consistency, and pace. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation should always be far game, although if you have serious difficulties with these, some passes focused solely on that are not a bad idea.

    If you spot something outside of your focus plan, note it for another pass - don't derail your focus on the current pass.

    Having a definite plan always helps. You can see and measure your accomplishments, so it isn't just one more pass that seems to have accomplished nothing concrete.
     
  8. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    This is an aspect of my own process that I've tried to improve, though not always with success. Thanks for the sound advice.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't use standard editorial marks, since i do more than just 'edit'... even my 'simple' edits are part learning exercise as well, as i will often explain why something is wrong, instead of merely correcting the error...

    when editing for mentees or clients, i use red for the first pass, instruct the writers to use a different color for their comments/questions/arguments... on the next round, i use another color for my notes... and so on... in each round i delete the notes as problems have been dealt with, so by the time we finish all the back and forthing, the ms is fully edited, all in black and ready to be submitted...

    i underline words that call for comment, line-through ones that need to go and bold ones that need further attention... i use yellow highlight for repeats and other general problem areas and green for punctuation errors... use blue and other highlight colors, as necessary...

    i find this method works best for me and the mentees/clients...

    when editing my own work, if it's a book, i'll print it out at least once and mark it up in red, with a combo of standard marks and my own variants... for shorter works, i just read through and make corrections/changes to the document on the computer...
     

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