Final Proofreading Checklist for Your Book

Before you hit the send key and zap your book to the book printer, do one last check to make sure everything in this checklist is done.

1. Gutter space. The inside margin of each page (gutter space) can be difficult to read because it is tucked into the spine. If you are using Microsoft Word, set the gutter to 0.1 or 0.2. If you are using graphic design software, ask the book printer for a layout template and set the margins according to the template.

2. Page size. If you are uploading a document to be converted by the printer to a PDF, set the document page size to match the page size of your book. Otherwise the page count will change, text will get shifted, and text sizing may get altered.

3. Check bleed areas for any artwork which is intended to reach the page edge. Most printers require a 1/8-inch (0.125) bleed. This is to allow for the variance in the page cutting machine. It looks a little odd the first time, but extend the artwork out to the bleed margin.

4. White space. Books look better if there is sufficient white space to rest the eye. Keep a one-inch margin around the text block. At the start of a new chapter, move the text halfway down the page and center the title in the empty space above.

5. Artwork. Make sure pictures are in the .tif format to ensure a decent reproduction. Artwork should be at 300 dots per inch (dpi) in order to look good once printed.

6. Check file naming. Most book printers have specific file naming protocols for easier identification. Make sure your files follow the book printer's guidelines.

7. Double check the spelling on the front and back covers. It is very embarrassing to have a spelling error on your cover - particularly in your title. While you are looking at your cover, also make sure the ISBN and price are correct.

8. Check for consistency in typefaces. Thumb through your book and compare chapter titles, first letters (especially if you have used drop capitals), main text lettering, and any use of bolding or italics to be sure they are consistent throughout.

9. Run spell check one more time. Errors can creep in at any point in the writing and editing process. Run spell check again just to be sure you have caught any last minute erroneous additions to your manuscript.

10. Check for widows and orphans. In typesetting, words or short lines which are dangling either at the top or bottom of a column are termed widows and orphans. Neither one is desirable. These are usually easy to spot by flipping through the book. If you find a widow or orphan you can fix it by using any of the following techniques:

  • highlighting the text and turning on the option for Widow/orphan control now included in most word processing programs (next time make sure it is on from the start)
  • forcing a page break early
  • rewriting the paragraph
  • adjusting the page margins slightly
  • adjusting any hyphenation on the page
  • adding or resizing artwork, a figure, or graph on the page.

11. Paragraph formatting. Always indent paragraphs. This is a book, not an e-mail. Also, there should be no blank line space between paragraphs that relate to the same time and place.

12. Font size. Choose a font size of 10, 11, or 12 points. Too small a font size makes for difficult reading.

13. Lines per page. Lines spaced too closely together make a book difficult to read. Plan for no more than 30 lines per page in a 6- X 9-inch book and no more than 50 lines in an 8.5- X 11-inch book.

14. Page numbering. The first page of text should be numbered 1 and on the right-hand side as you look at the open book.

15. Check page breaks. Avoid using soft page breaks brought about by adding line spaces. Use proper page breaks (either CTRL-Enter or Insert'Break'Page in Microsoft Word) to start new pages. This will ensure a new chapter starts on a new page. If you have a full-page image, sandwich it between page breaks so it will remain alone on the page.

Performing these final checks on your book before you submit it to your book printer will give you the best possible result. Not only will your book look more professional, you will also save yourself money by not having to correct files you have already sent to the book printer. (Yes, they charge for that…)

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