clock - estimated reading time  Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Practically every book will have at least one error, and many will have even more. Books can go through numerous rounds of edits before they’re printed and readers will still pick up on something that is incorrect. Why is this?

1. Incorrectly accepting and rejecting edits in a manuscript can lead to errors

The process of accepting and rejecting edits in a manuscript can introduce errors into the manuscript that weren’t already there.

We find that one of the best practices authors can do after receiving their edited manuscript is to save two versions and globally accept all changes in one version. This ensures that there are no introduced errors in that manuscript, but that you can also return to the manuscript with the edits shown and see the choices that the editor has made.

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2. Different formats read differently

You might be familiar with the proofing tip of printing out your book and reading it on paper to catch any mistakes you may be overlooking when reading it on a screen. But why does this work?

The difference between reading on a screen and off physical paper can be explained through some recent research into the matter. Reading on a screen can certainly improve some aspects of your reading, including speed and skimming, but these aren’t always conducive to picking up on errors. When reading print, however, studies show that reading comprehension and retention are increased in comparison, which makes for a much better environment for seeing and fixing errors.

This in turn means that, while you and many others have read your book while in the manuscript phase, there can be certain errors that are skimmed over because they are being read on a screen. When your book has been printed, however, these errors come out of hiding and can often be glaringly obvious.

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3. Typesetting and readability

Another reason for errors being missed in earlier stages of the book’s production is that it has yet to go through the process of typesetting. Typesetting deals with the interior layout of a book, including the following:

  • The choice and size of the font
  • Kerning and tracking
  • The size of the margins
  • Removing hyphen and word stacking
  • Orphans and widows
  • Removing rivers within the text
  • The layout of images in relation to the text

Each of these things, when done correctly, work to increase the readability of a book so that the experience of reading is as a smooth and enjoyable as possible. In layman’s terms, after you book has been typeset and the experience of reading has been made easier, its errors will also easier to find.

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4. Human error

While they are professionals in their respective fields, experienced authors and editors are still human. It is virtually impossible to pick up on every error in any aspect of life—including errors in a book (and likely in this very blog post!).

This is especially true for those who have read the book multiple times. When you know the book inside and out, you can anticipate what’s to come and are more likely to skip over errors simply because your brain has already filled out what it wants to read, not what it is actually seeing.

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