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                 How Manuscript Gremlins Breed: 11 Potential Errors
                                                    by Ally Shields 

I've just completed several rounds of edits, copyedits and galleys. If I've learned nothing else, I'm convinced manuscript gremlins, those pesky little errors, creep in and breed when you're not looking. Seriously. There's no other explanation for finding them time...after time...after time.

Or is there?

Could it be that revision/corrections can create their own errors? Heaven forbid.

And yet, think about it. What happens every time you change a word and move text? Did you get rid of all the old text? Is the new punctuation correct? Is the new text consistent with what comes before and after?

In order to minimize introducing new errors in the editing/revision phases, here are eleven things to watch for when deleting, changing, or adding text:

1. orphaned
words and phrases
2. missing words, especially articles like a, an, and the
3. repeated/over-used words (not just in that sentence but look at the rest of the page)
4. misplaced quotation marks or backwards quotation marks
5. text that needs different punctuation than before - maybe a question mark instead of a period
6. consistent capitalization
7. inconsistency in facts: descriptions, etc.
8. time line errors

9. extra spaces or lack of spacing
new misspelled words

11. unintended format changes


I'm not sure we ever get them all -
they're tenacious and elusive creatures -
but we owe it to our publishers, editors, and readers to keep trying!

Is there another type of manuscript gremlin you find especially pesky?
Unmask him in the comments! :)



08/03/2015 7:10am

Let's see. Verb noun agreement.
Just finished the umpteenth pass on a ms. I just submitted. I had expected the last pass to be soo easy, no catches. BUT ARGH!!!
My personal theory: they breed at night like wire hangers in the closet!

08/03/2015 9:25am

Good No. 12, Kath! And how about a related No. 13 - verb tense?

08/03/2015 4:51pm

They breed alright. Reading my proof copy now and even after copy edit I'm still finding them.

08/03/2015 5:36pm

Amazing, isn't it? :) Good luck with your proofs.

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