- SPELLING/GRAMMAR CHECKER: Okay, this is only a first step. Most word processing programs include these checkers that you can run at any time. It's best to wait until you've completed the text. No need to correct something you will remove later anyway. But these checkers come with flaws, often times suggesting the wrong versions of words (there and their, for example) when you know which is correct. So don't always trust their advice.
Example of how MS-Word's punctuation checker isn't perfect.
- VIEW IT ON ANOTHER DEVICE: It's amazing how mistakes will pop right out when you view your work on a different device. For instance, load your document onto your tablet or smartphone and read it.
- TEXT TO VOICE: I personally use a few apps on my Android tablet (Cool Reader and PDFtoSpeech) to read back my chapters to me. I have it set so a UK voice named Oliver does the reading. Not only do I catch when Oliver misses a word (because I left it out), but his British inflection makes the book sound exciting! It takes it out of my own head.
- LEARN GRAMMAR/PUNCTUATION RULES: There are lots of nice books to help you with grammar and punctuation questions. Below are ones that I suggest. Google is also full of plenty of websites when you are unsure of how something should be properly written. I recommend Grammar-Monster and Grammar Girl. For spelling, word definitions, and synonyms, use Dictionary.com. There are a lot of rules, so if you are unsure, just type your question into Google Search. For instance, if you type "Ensure or Insure?" you'll find sites that will talk about the correct usage for each. Just avoid forum sites. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and you don't want to wade through discussions or end up with bad advice.
- FREE PROOFREADERS: If you have a friend or friends who love to read, especially those who are grammar Nazis, ask them if they'll take a look. Offer them a free copy of the final book in exchange. Try to get several friends to read your book.
- REPEAT: Each time you go through your book you will find more mistakes. The idea is to minimize and remove the most you can. So you should slowly read through your book at least three to four times. This could take months, but it's worth it.
Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing
Painless Writing (Barron's Painless Series)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation