Complete Checklist for Book Proof Reading

27 Mar

Proof-Reading is the last stage in producing your book or e-book for that matter, so spend the time to do it right. Books last a very long time, and so do the typographical and other errors that sneak into them. Take these three steps to make your book as error-free as possible.

Read the entire book. While you are reading, you will be checking for typos and inconsistencies.

  • Is the text complete?
  • Did a paragraph get left out somewhere along the way?
  • Is part of a sentence cut off at the bottom of a page?
  • Are fonts consistently used throughout the book?
  • Good typography uses proper curled quotation marks, not the straight inch marks.
  • Line spacing – Is it consistent in every paragraph throughout the book?

Use this Checklist:

  • Hyphens, ems and ens – Each type of dash has a different use. For instance, numbers or dates in a range are separated by an en dash, not a hyphen.
  • Have someone who hasn’t seen the book before, also read through it. You’ll be surprised how many errors can be uncovered by an observer who’s not directly invested in the work.
  • Look at the Book, ignore the text and instead concentrate on everything else. Here are the things you’ll typically be looking for, and some tips on how to find them.
  • Orphans/widows -Those pesky single lines at the bottom of a page or parts of lines at the top of a page. If you can get rid of them, do so.
  • Running heads need to be consistent and have the proper information, like part titles or chapter titles. It’s easy to make a mistake with these, so check them thoroughly.
  • Chapter openers should also be consistent. Does each chapter start in the same place on the page and contain the same elements in the same order?
  • Folios or page numbers need a look. Blank pages should have nothing on them, and also check that your pagination is accurate with all odd-numbered pages on the right.
  • Page references are another trap. If you are referring to something “in Chapter 3 or “on page 98 is it still there?
  • Paragraph indents ought to be consistent throughout, no matter what style you’re using.
  • Subhead spacing and alignment can be controlled by styles in your software, but you should check them anyway to make sure they are uniform.

Proof the Cover.
The front and back covers of your book are the most important two pages in terms of book sales. Here are elements of your cover to check on the proof:

  • Is the overall design and the colors what you expected?
  • Is your title clearly visible?
  • Is the type on your spine clear and straight?
  • If you included a category and price, are they correct?
  • Don’t forget to carefully proofread the copy on the back cover.
  • Make sure no important elements are too close to the trimmed edges of the book. I recommend you have 0.5 inches minimum around the edges.
  • If you have a barcode, or if you’ve printed the ISBN on the back cover, make sure they match the ISBN on your copyright page.

If you are struggling with these basics, or can’t put your finger on what’s wrong with the whole book package you are presenting, I highly recommend an excellent (FREE!) service provided by the New York Times bestselling (self-)publisher Victorine Lieske.

Together with her regulars she will run the rule over everything – critiquing your presentation through their readers and reviewer eyes, and providing advice on how to remedy whatever issues you may have from the perspective of an extremely successful self-publisher.

Excerpt from

Further Reading:



Hyper Smash


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One response to “Complete Checklist for Book Proof Reading

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