Editing: proofreading your book

Proofreading is the final stage of editing, and quite a challenge. No matter how many times you have read your book, there is always something that sneaks past. Proofreading your book should help you spot any typos, spelling and grammatical errors that have slipped through the net before it is published. A proofread book is more likely to be taken seriously, so if you have trouble, ask a friend to help you.

Don’t underestimate how long this will take. Even if you are a very fast reader, proofreading is an entirely different process which requires intense concentration and should not be confused with reading for pleasure!

Before Proofreading, read our advice on editing your book.

Ten CompletelyNovel tips to help you proofread

  1. Put your writing aside for a while
  2. Focus on your weaknesses
  3. Read your work out loud
  4. Try proofreading backwards
  5. Keep style and usage handbooks readily available, and use them
  6. Watch out for contractions, apostrophes and homonyms
  7. Run the spell check to catch any obvious errors
  8. Highlight all punctuation marks and evaluate each one for accuracy
  9. Proofread a printed version of your work
  10. Get someone else to proofread it

We’ve expanded these tips in our article focusing on proofreading tips for self-publishers.

Ordering proof copies and what to look for

CompletelyNovel lets you order proof copies of your book at cost price. We recommend you do this before you make your book public on CompletelyNovel, or submit it for distribution to retailers. This option is available once you complete the book creator and you can order as many copies as you like.

When you see your book in printed format, there are some other things that we’d advise that you check:

Titles, blurbs and covers
Sometimes you can be so focused on the main body of the book that you forget the words that make up the book as a whole. Give yourself plenty of time to proofread the cover (front, back and spine) and the title, copyright, contents and dedication pages inside. Don’t forget all the marketing material, too. The blurb or description that you have written needs to be perfect.

Title pages
If you want each chapter or title page to always start on the same side of the double page spread (usually people prefer the right) then you will need to ensure that they are always on an odd numbered page. (See our Typesetting guide

Headers and footers
Are these positioned correctly and are they consistent? Make sure you haven’t missed anything out.

These should be very high quality (at least 300dpi if you can). Again, bear in mind that consistency tends to be a sign of professional work, so there should be a method to where you place them.

Is your book fit for publishing? Take the ‘Get Your Book Fit’ online course and find out.

More advice and articles on proofreading

For a quick and effective course in proofreading your book, read our top ten tips here.

If you’d like some help proofreading and would like a recommendation, please see our People We Trust page.

Questions about publishing?

We offer expert services for writers who would like some extra help and guidance.

  • Cover Design Consultation for just £35/$55

  • Professional typesetting from £35/$55

    Whatever your question – our friendly team are here to help.

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