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“It just needs a quick proofread…”

When most first-time authors have completed their book, they look for someone to proofread it to eliminate typos, spelling errors, and punctuation mistakes. Few think that more may be necessary. Most of the time, they are mistaken.

I recently received just such a request. The author had worked with a content editor, whose excellent work had helped to achieve an extremely well organized book. The ideas flowed logically, the writing was clear, and all thoughts were well-developed.

What else could it possibly need?

After evaluating the manuscript by doing a sample copyedit (also called line editing), I determined multiple areas that needed attention. Foremost was that the author had quoted extensively from Scripture, using multiple versions (including social media memes, commercial art, and the author’s own memory) without listing the version used for each quotation. Yes, even Bible publishers expect and deserve credit for their product.

Listed below are editorial tasks I performed for this author, who now has an exceptionally high quality book.

Removed double spaces

Removed ghost spaces after paragraphs

Ensured ellipses consistency (… or . . . based on publisher’s preference)

Corrected PUGS errors (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling)

Checked place and institution names and spellings

Checked personal names and spellings

Changed paragraph breaks for effect and ease in reading

Ensured consistent point of view (we/us vs. you) within individual paragraphs unless context clarifies a need for change.

Replaced gender-specific pronouns with singular they, them, their (not he/she, him/her, his/her, hers) to avoid awkward phrasing

Provided copyright wording for copyright page for each Bible version used

Reformatted scripture quotes to eliminate incorrect italicization

Provided Scripture references for direct quotes not cited

Verified Scripture references and checked punctuation and spelling for direct quotes

Put non-breaking spaces in Scripture references to prevent awkward line breaks

Entered en-dashes to replace hyphens in number ranges

Ensured consistency with:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition

Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary, online version

The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, 4th edition ©2004

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