A Rogues Gallery of Editing Mistakes

As a self-published author, a lot of the editing responsibility falls on you too. Of course, having a second set of eyes review your work is almost always the best option, but there’s a lot you can do to fine-tune your manuscript before anyone else sees it.


Today AuthorHouse presents ten of the most common editing errors—things to look out for when you’re reviewing that first draft!


proofreadingMisspellings: Everyone has committed this one, and the solution is simple enough. Use your word processor’s spell-checker (as a suggestion, not necessarily as the last word) and check your dictionary when in doubt.


Incorrect pronoun case: Is your pronoun being used as a subject, object, or possessive in your sentence? Make sure you choose the pronoun—I, me, or mine, for example—to match.


Unnecessary commas: Commas are typically used to separate clauses in sentences, as well as items in lists. Don’t insert one just because the sentence is becoming a little long.


Missing commas: The opposite problem is not using commas when they’re necessary (i.e. when listing items, separating sentence clauses, or when signaling nonrestrictive or nonessential material.) For example:


My older brother, a sophomore, still hasn’t decided on a major.


In that sentence, the commas separate the nonessential “a sophomore” because, while providing information, it isn’t necessary to make the sentence complete or grammatically correct.


Comma splices: The third part of our “Comma Trilogy,” a comma splice is when you use commas to join independent clauses. Separate them with a period or semicolon instead, or use a conjunction (and, or, but, etc.)


Sentence fragments: All of your sentences should be grammatically correct (contain a subject, verb, and direct object if the verb is transitive) and able to stand on their own.


Faulty parallelism: When you’re trying to express matching ideas in a series, make sure the sentences are grammatically equal. For example, instead of writing:


My goals for 2018 are finding a job, weight loss, and to read more.


You should write:


My goals for 2018 are finding a job, losing weight, and reading more.


Apostrophe errors: Use apostrophes to indicate possession for nouns (Mark’s home) but NOT for personal pronouns (its, your, their, etc.) and for contractions (it is = it’s, they are = they’re).


Inconsistencies: Sometimes English allows a bit of latitude in spelling (British vs. American spellings), hyphenation, numbers (writing them out or using numerals) and capitalization. Just make sure that you’re consistent in how you do these things in your writing.


Unclear pronouns: When you use pronouns in your sentences, make sure that the nouns they’re referring to (the referents) are clear. For example, the following sentence is confusing because the referent of “that” is unclear:


Chicken and fish were both on the menu, but that is one I preferred.


Let’s make professional-looking, well-polished manuscripts one of our resolutions for 2018!


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