Completing the Second Reading of a Manuscript.

We are finally getting to the end of the second reading of a manuscript. Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous two blogs. It’s great to add new ideas to my process.

In Proofreading Process (Part One) and Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Two) I covered my process for the first and second reading of a manuscript. In the comments section of the blogs you can find lots of interesting ideas on the subject.

Today, I’m going to cover a few more technical areas and finish off the second reading. In the next blog, I’ll cover areas that involve making suggestions to an author but aren’t hard rules.

What about Mom and Dad?

Search for mom, dad, aunt, uncle, etc. and check if they are capitalized correctly. The capitalization of the first letter is easy to type wrong and difficult for the eye to see. A global search will force you to look at each case.

Mom is capitalized for direct address.

“Hey, Mom. I got a tattoo.”

Mom is not capitalized when referring to her.

“My mom doesn’t like my tattoo. Can you believe that?”


Acronyms should be added to your “list” as you read the manuscript. Then it’s easy to check if they are written in a consistent manner. For example:

PH.D or PhD or P.H.D.

AM or am or a.m.

It’s a good idea to check the style manual the author uses and pick the format from there.

Dialogue Format

When editing dialogue pay attention to punctuation and capitalization.

  • Is the punctuation inside the end quote correct?
  • Is the first word after the end quote capitalized when it shouldn’t be?

Correct: “I love my new car,” she said.

Incorrect: “I love my new car.” She said. (Did you notice the 2 errors?)

Correct: “Why did you steal my car?” he asked.

Incorrect: “Why did you steal my car?” He asked.

Possessive or Plural?

Look for words ending in ‘s’ and check if they were meant to be possessive or plural. Remember, it’s the dog’s tail, not the dogs tail – unless there are multiple dogs that share one tail, but then it would be the dogs’ tail. Now that I think about it, I guess that creature could exist in a fantasy or sci-fi novel.

The Dreaded Comma

I used to think I knew how to use a comma. Ha ha. The joke was on me. During my mentorship program with Joan Barfoot through the HSW Correspondence Program, Joan kindly pointed out I needed to learn how to use a comma.  I literally spent two months studying the comma. I guess the saying– you don’t know what you don’t know – is true. I can’t thank Joan enough for pointing this out to me.

I won’t go into the comma rules as there are enough books on the topic, but I wanted to mention how important the pesky little punctuation mark is. To create a professional looking manuscript, it’s worth the effort to learn how to use the comma.

What’s next?

Phew. I feel sweat dripping down my forehead. We are finally at the end of the second reading. The next blog, you guessed it, will start with the third reading.

I’m keeping track of suggestions and comments, and in the final blog in this series, I will post all the great ideas people have been generous enough to send me. I used some of the ideas to proofread this blog. I hope you don’t find a typo :)

Thanks for reading . . .


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