Editing Your Book Manuscript in the Golden Age of Text Correction

In my last entry “Correcting Text Errors: Tsouris Back When, Now a Joy,” I showed you how tedious text correction was back when. Today, “good enough” is never good enough. We’re living in a golden age of text correction.

Basic Text Correction Today

You have four ways to delete a word on your computer. You can place your cursor

  1. after the word you want to delete, hit Backspace to make it disappear, and type the correct word.
  2. before the word you want to delete, hit Delete, and type the correct word.
  3. before the word you want to delete, hit Insert, and type the correct word to cover the word you want to delete.

Or you can

4. highlight the word you want to delete with your cursor and type the correct word.

You can delete entire paragraphs by waving the cursor over the area you want to remove and hitting Delete.

No powder. No blobs. Almost no time.

Now when you insert a new paragraph on page 1, the bottom paragraph on the page automatically rolls over to the top of page 2, and the bottom paragraph on page 2 automatically rolls over to the top of page 3.

It’s seamless and paperless. You can edit and revise right up until deadline.

Other Essential Text Correction Tricks

The Delete function is one of the inventions in the electronic era that have made life so much easier for writers. Another, Cut and Paste, I talk about in “Jumpstart Your Next Book through Freewriting.” Here are a few others essential tricks that you couldn’t do with the typewriter.

Track Changes

You can use Track Changes to edit faster and better. For instance, use it any time you’re writing a new sentence to replace a current sentence that you think is weak but potentially salvageable. You don’t want to lose the original in case it turns out to be better than the new.

So write your new text with Track Changes on and delete the current text. For comparison purposes, you’ll still see it because Track Changes only strikes through the text and changes its color. If you decide you want to use the original text, just highlight the text and Reject Change.

As an editor, I edit clients’ papers with Track Changes on so they can see every change I make. I send them two versions of every file, one with Track Changes on and one Clean, with all changes accepted. They read Clean for the flow. If they like what they read, they keep going. If they get to a passage that seems awkward or doesn’t feel right, they refer to Track Changes. Any change that I make can be rejected to get back to the original version.


When I finish my day’s revising for any file, I write “[begin]” at the spot where I want to begin working the next day. The next day, I do a search for “[begin]” — my electronic bookmark — and I’m there. Sometimes you can just type “[b” and you’ll get there.

When you’re editing your final draft and you determine to replace all uses of “thing” that you wrote during freewriting with concrete nouns, searching “thing” will get you to every instance.

Find and Replace

When you discover that you’ve been alternately uppercasing and lowercasing a particular term and you want the manuscript to have consistency, spell the term with the case that you want it to have in both Find and Replace.

You can replace every use of the wrong case with the correct case instantly by hitting Replace All.

Or you can go one at a time, which is often necessary. For instance, most nouns are typed lowercase, but when they appear at the beginning of sentences they are uppercased. Replacing all uppercase spellings of the term with lowercase could create spelling errors that weren’t already in the manuscript.

Are you still typing two spaces after the period? That custom was popular during the days when typewriters used monospaced fonts like Courier. With the rise in popularity of proportional fonts, like Times New Roman, the practice has become to type one space only. Typing two will only irritate your publisher.

You can instantly get rid of extra spaces between sentences by hitting the space bar twice at Replace > “Find what:” and hitting the space bar once at Replace > “Replace with:.” Do the operation twice to your complete manuscript in case one instance had three spaces. It happens by accident and is easily corrected.

Make sure Track Changes is off during this operation.

“Match case”

If you want to search one case only, hit the “More > >” button on the Find and Replace screen and check the “Match case” box. When you’re done, uncheck the box or the feature will remain.

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This piece was adapted from Ken Wachsberger’s You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You. Ken’s other books may be found here and here. For book coaching and editing help, email Ken at [email protected].

Schedule your complimentary 30-minute coaching and editing session now.

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