You’ve made a major commitment to producing a quality piece of work, and this is reflected in the numerous drafts you’ve produced. Each time you make a significant change to your work, you should follow the same meticulous proofreading process to ensure the quality is preserved.
This may be tricky, as you’ve probably noticed that the process of becoming an expert writer can be a lengthy one. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the common errors that might arise during your journey to publication and how you can prevent them from fouling up your masterpiece.
If you’re writing for an English-speaking audience, then you should certainly be concerned about spelling errors. This is especially important for a piece of non-fiction, where you might want to give the impression that you’ve done some proper research. When in doubt, a spell checker is your best friend.
As mentioned above, your spelling needs to be impeccable, and this is especially important when you’re submitting your work for publication. Sometimes, a simple spelling mistake can lead to a complete re-write of a piece and lots of wasted time. Be sure to proofread the work several times before sending it off to ensure no spelling errors creep in.
A formatting error is an error that occurs during the publication process and is usually the result of a careless typist. In other words, it’s an error that isn’t your fault and won’t affect the quality of your work. For example, if a magazine publishes your work with some minor errors, but these don’t significantly affect the flow of the text or interfere with the meaning, you can probably disregard them.
Sometimes, a simple formatting error can trip up even the most talented writers. This is why it’s important to be mindful of the process and take the time to correct any possible errors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re not certain about a particular formatting option. Remember, computers have grown incredibly sophisticated over the years, and there are many tools available to make the process much easier. For example, there is currently a software program, known as Manuscript, that can help you draft and format your work in a snap. Plus, you can always hire professional help if you need to.
A style error occurs when you use the wrong word, phrase, or expression in place of a more suitable one. For example, instead of writing “dog-eat-dog” world, you might write “dog-friendly” world, using the latter as an alternative. As you can probably guess, style errors can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’re the type of writer who cares deeply about the style of his work. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to detect style errors, as you’ll have to go through the entire piece to find them. In other words, it’s really up to the reader to figure out if the author uses the correct style or not. This is why it’s important to get a trusted eye on your work, someone who can provide invaluable feedback and suggestions on your behalf. When possible, get a copyediting firm to double-check your work for style errors. There are many pitfalls that might crop up along the way, and it’s essential that you’re on the lookout for them. Otherwise, you might end up with a blandly-written, drab piece of work that doesn’t reflect your unique voice or aesthetic.
If you’re lucky enough to have an editor who’s familiar with your work and has had some experience in publishing, then this person can help you avoid many of these pitfalls. When you’re first starting out, make sure to seek out an experienced editor who can help you identify and correct these issues before your piece is submitted to a publisher.
As the name suggests, a structure error occurs when you don’t follow the correct sequence of events as laid out in the text. For example, you might write “After getting a dog in 2004, I found it easier to clean its stool than to flush it down the toilet,” but the flow of the text suggests that you should actually write “I found it easier to clean the stool of my dog than to flush it down the toilet…”
Sometimes, a simple sentence structure error can trip up even the most talented writers. This is why it’s important to be mindful of the process and take the time to correct any possible errors. If you make a habit of checking your work for structure errors, then it will become second nature to you. There are several reputable companies that can help you with this, and as soon as you’ve identified one, give them a call and ask for an estimate on how long it will take to properly proofread your piece. Once you have this, you can determine how much time you have left to correct the errors before the deadline. Sometimes, you might have to halt the publication process and ask for an extension if you’re running behind schedule.
An overall layout error occurs when you haven’t followed the instructions that were provided with the software used to produce the piece. Most often, these layout errors pop up because the author didn’t take the time to familiarize himself with the software or because he ignored the instructions provided by the software. In other words, it’s the result of an inexperienced or careless person. Sometimes, a simple matter of layout can trip up even the most talented writers. This is why it’s important to be mindful of the process and take the time to correct any possible errors. When you reach the end of your editorial process and the piece is laid out beautifully on your screen, take a break and feel confident that you’ve created a polished piece of work. If not, it might be a good idea to go through the text one more time and try to identify any possible errors. You can also ask for help from a friend or family member who is familiar with computers.
A reference error occurs when you forget to provide the source or quote from which you derived a particular fact or statistic. In other words, it’s an error that could arise during the process of researching and writing the work. If a reader is unable to verify a particular fact or piece of information, then it will lower the credibility of your work. In some cases, these errors can be extremely frustrating for the reader, especially if they’ve gone to the trouble of researching a particular topic and plan on using this information later on in their own work.
If you’re taking the time to research and write a piece on a specific topic, then cite the sources of your information throughout the text. If possible, use footnotes or endnotes at the end of the document to provide readers with the information they need. Remember, a good encyclopedia article will usually have footnotes or endnotes, which are basically references at the end of each entry. In this way, your readers can easily verify the sources of your information. In the event that you do come across a fact or piece of information that you think is important, but for which you can’t find a suitable source, then you can always resort to citing dictionaries or thesauruses. Just make sure that you do have a reliable source and, if it’s a widely-used dictionary or a thesaurus, then so much the better. Dictionaries and thesauruses often have entries that are tersely-worded, so if you do find yourself in need of defining a word or phrase, then this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
The content error, as the name suggests, occurs when you include irrelevant or inappropriate information in your piece. For example, you might write about the dangers of swimming with sharks, but if this information is completely tangential to the point you’re trying to make, then it’s definitely a content error. The reader will most likely feel as though they’ve wasted their time reading something that was of no relevance to them. Sometimes, these errors can be extremely frustrating for the reader, especially if they’ve gone to the trouble of putting in the effort to understand your work. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the author to ensure that his work contains only relevant information.
If you’re taking the time to research and write a piece on a specific topic, then ensure that the content you provide is tied directly to this topic. For example, if you’re writing about the life of William Shakespeare, then the content you provide about the English language or the history of theatre should all relate directly to this overarching theme. Sometimes, it’s easy to get distracted by the fascinating details that emerge during the process of research and write a piece on some exciting new topic. But be sure to keep your end goal in mind and make sure you’re giving appropriate content for the piece you’re writing. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the author to ensure that his work contains only relevant information.