Proofreading Your Own Work

Lesson 4/8 - Take a Little More Time: Common Errors


Proofreading Your Own Work


Lesson Info

Take a Little More Time: Common Errors

We're gonna look at some more common errors. "Their", everyone knows "their". So I like to make little cheat sheets that help me remember which word should be used when. And kind of create either, I like letters, or shortcuts, to know which one should be used then. So "than" with an A is compare. It's more than. E, the E in "time" means you need the E in "then". Then we left. Further and farther, I just remember the U is an unseen distance. So if you're trying to say "further discussion", that's unseen, use the U. If you're meaning "farther down the road", it's not further, it's not an unseen distance, you can see. It's farther. Compliment versus complement, is it complete, or is it praise? Now both of these have Es in them, so we'll just cheat and use the I in praise. But "The wine complemented this pork nicely." It completed the meal, or "She complimented my wine selection." She praised my wine selection. This is very easy because they sound the same, they're literally one letter dif...

ferent. So I mark this, and I have a list of things I check on their own, and this is that. There'll be some terms that, they're difficult to find unless you're specifically looking for them. I.e. versus e.g., these are very easy to mix up. Basically, are you saying "in essence", or are you giving an example? And whichever the answer is, use the appropriate one. This one, I've seen a lot, and I don't know where it comes from, but it's becoming one of the most common errors I've seen, and it's using "defiantly" instead of "definitely". And most writers probably have run into this, and it's very common in text, and online speak, and it probably is because of the way the word sounds. But this is definitely one I always flag now, because I will see "defiantly" when someone definitely meant "definitely". Alright, "of" versus "have", this is our ear tricking us about a contraction. "We should've seen the results." We should "of" seen results is not correct, but it sounds like it is. We should "have" seen results. Assure, insure, ensure. This is tricky, they sound the same, they mean similar things, you have to get down to the smaller levels of meaning to dissect them, but they do mean different things. If you assure someone something, you're promising, or you're informing them positively. "I assure you, I will get this done," is different than "ensure", which is make certain. Follow-up on active action to make, ensure, it's done. And then "insure" is insurance. Alright, incomplete comparisons, and "who" versus "that". We wanna make sure our comparison is from one thing to another, and then, remember people are "who", and objects are "that". This is very tricky when talking about corporations. Corporations, even though they're treated as people legally, they're treated as things linguistically. So this corporation, they're a "that", they're not a "who". Can be very easy to try and think of them as a "who", but they're a thing. Alright, any questions? Okay, this one's pretty specific, but I was just curious, when you are looking for specific words, like "complement" and "compliment", do you do that in your paper editing, or do you use the word search bar on the computer? Yes, so I actually use a program that I love, and it's called Perfect It. It's made by this company, Intelligent Editing, and it's a consistency-checker that you can build style sheets within. So it took me a couple of hours to put together a style sheet for this one client, but they had a list that was hundreds of words long on very specific spellings, "compliment" versus "complement", industry terms, jargon, things that mattered, and once entered, this style sheet does this check for you. And so, I would put the time in, and create an electronic version of this style sheet, so you can run, Perfect It's only $99 dollars for the license and it never expires, and it has saved so much of my time when I'm researching something, because you only have to remember it once. You remember it the one time to put it into your style sheet, and then it's checked forever. And you can grow your style sheet organically. If you find, as you're writing, you start to make this one error instead of another, add it, and it's part of this comprehensive list. So, if I can recommend one piece of software, it would be that. I know there's a bunch of others that are popular and successful, but this one, it's not only good at just checking consistency, it's good to build into your own personal queries, and your own personal misses. Just curious about proofreading with dialogue. Yes. Specifically for fiction, how does that, I mean, can you just go into that and expand that a little more? Absolutely, so the first thing is check your punctuation. One of the first issues editors see is punctuation inside and outside of quotation marks. American, it's inside the quotation marks, British, it's outside, so whichever you're using, make sure it's appropriate. Always start with the fact that you've gotta have whatever they're saying in these quotes. And that's the first place to start. Then, move into, look for semicolons and commas. It's very easy to throw comma splices into dialogue, because it's reflective of how people actually talk. We don't always talk in complete sentences. We speak in fragments, we cut ourselves off, we interrupt each other. Matter of fact, specifically in dialogue, there's rules about what punctuation marks to use for which types of breaks. So, you have a character speaking to another character, and they just trail off, you would use ellipses in this situation. If you have a character interrupt another character, you're gonna use a dash, you need to show that this was an abrupt ending. So, the first thing to look for is what type of breaks are we using, and then look for the punctuation mark that needs to be used in that situation. Aside from the quotations, the other issue is when you're putting an appositive with it, like a "he said", "she said", someone spoke, making sure that's used appropriately as well. Often, it's easy to drop those out, to drop out the comma and to put in a different mark that would be appropriate. But make sure that you're ending the sentence still with a period. I have had a few writers who, their writing and their punctuating for the dialogue, not for the appositive, so someone asked a question, "Is this really what we're going to do today?" And then there's a question at the end of "she asked". Make sure that the dialogue for what they're saying is appropriate within the quotation marks. Focus on breaks in text, is the biggest one. Make sure that the punctuation you're using for a break in dialogue is appropriate to the sound. And then just make sure that the punctuation at the end of our appositives, or our attributions are in line. I have, Heather, kind of a follow-up question. You mentioned the American versus the British, Yes. and where the apostrophes, or the quotes go. So Eilish had asked about if, she's an American writer, but she's writing British, the character is British, that she's writing in that person's dialogue. Yes. So, do you use the double quotes, or the single quote? So you always write the punctuation for the audience that will be reading it. If you're writing any character of any different, American, British, even Canadian, or Australian English, which do vary, write for the audience who's reading it. I picked up, I bought a used book that I've been dying to read, and it was in British punctuation, and I couldn't read it. I had to put it down, I was like, I want to be reading American punctuation right now. So whatever the character is, you're writing and punctuating for your audience. And there are people who specialize in each types of punctuation, because they do differ with each type of English. This is just, I'm gonna throw it in there as a random one, but from Kathy Holden, who says, "If something is written in parentheses, and at the end of the sentence, does the period go within or after? Yes, A big question. so it depends on where the parenthetical statement is in the sentence. So if it's a part of the sentence, it goes at the end. You can have complete sentences in parentheses, and then the period goes on the inside. So if you're writing a sentence, "This car is the best model out so far," parentheses, "it shows great promise," period at the end. If you say, "This car is the best out so far," period, then you start a parentheses, the sentence within that parentheses has the period within it as well. So, if you're doing it as part of another sentence, you punctuate at the end, like any other sentence. If it's standing on its own, as a complete statement within the parentheses, punctuation goes inside. It has to stand on its own. Cool, thank you. Yes, absolutely, any other questions? Punctuation can be a little bit tricky, and especially if we are working with dialogue, or specialized scenarios. Yeah? Your thoughts on single quotes, when they're actually appropriate. To be used within other quotations. Is that the only time? That's the main one, yeah. And then other specific style guides will have use for them, and other types of English, but predominantly, you have a quotation within a quotation, or the same thing if you're using them to define a term. So if you're quoting someone defining this term, single quotes, and it can look a little bit funny at the end to have three in a row. And then when you're punctuating those together, so if their word in the single quotes comes at the end of the line, it's still period, quote, quote, quote, so, and these are the nuanced details that your editor is there for.

Class Description

Before you share your writing with anyone, whether it be an editor, a business associate, a client or a reader, you need to make sure it’s tight, clean and error-free. That’s why it’s critical for all writers to learn how to proofread their own work.

Detecting the flaws and mistakes in your writing is difficult because you’ve grown so familiar with it. This class will teach you the tips and tricks you need to come at it with fresh eyes. Heather Saunders, an experienced writer, editor and proofreader, will provide hands-on advice on how to go about the proofing process as well as the common errors to look out for.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Approach the text in new ways by removing distractions, reading it aloud, changing the appearance of the document, and taking a break when needed.
  • Read your work from the perspective of your intended audience.
  • Fact-check your writing.
  • Figure out if the piece accomplishes its purpose.
  • Identify habitual errors, such as weak words, excessive use of adjectives and adverbs, and punctuation issues.