You’ve gotten to the very end of writing your book. 

You’ve proofed it so many times you’re almost sick of reading it. 

You’re just about to send it off to your editor/agent, or you’re about to hit publish. 

But let’s do one final check on your document. This will not only give you peace of mind, but it will ensure your writing is the best it can be. 

Even the best writers make these mistakes as they write their books. But great writers clean up after their messy first drafts!

This is your complete list of items to ctrl + f (find and replace). 

Most Common High-Level Mistakes/Items to Consider

 

  1. “I think” and “in my opinion” — To make your writing more authoritative, remove almost all instances of these. People reading your book know they are reading your opinions, you don’t need to remind them. 
  2. “Thing” and “stuff” — Most of the time, it’s better for your reader if they know what it is you’re talking about. Don’t be generic when specificity is possible.
  3. “Very” — Delete 90% of the instances of the word very. 
  4. “That” — You can often remove 90% of the occurrences of the word “that” in your writing to make it cleaner and more punchy. 
  5. “To do” and “do to” — This is a real pain in the butt to search through your entire document for these two phrases, but it is such a common error to mix these up while writing so you’ll be happy you did it!
  6. “Here some” — This error is present in one of my older books. Everyone missed it. Here it is so you don’t have to make the same mistake.
  7. “  “ — Search for two, three, and four spaces. Replace with one space. 

If you want to make your book the best possible version, run all of the rest of these through find and replace. It will definitely take you several hours worth of hard work, but it’s time well spent to professionalize your work!

The One Effective ctrl + f for Commas

 

  1. “If”, “When”, “While”, “Because”, “Since”, “Although”, Or “As” — Search for each of these words when they start a sentence to discover a common comma problem. Use the case sensitive option to ferret out guilty culprits. In each of the following examples, the comma separates the dependent clause at the beginning from the main action of the sentence. This makes the sentences easier to read and understand.
    • If: “If it rains tomorrow, we will cancel the picnic.”
    • When: “When the movie ends, we should head to dinner.”
    • While: “While I was walking the dog, I saw an old friend.”
    • Because: “Because the road was closed, we had to take a different route.”
    • Since: “Since we last met, many things have changed.” 
    • Although: “Although it was raining, we decided to go hiking.”
    • As: “As the sun set, the sky turned a brilliant shade of orange.” 

Most Common Real Words Used Incorrectly

 

  1. “It’s” and “Its” — Remember, “it’s” is always a contraction for “it is” or “it has.” If the sentence doesn’t make sense when expanded, use “its.” When you say “its thing”, you don’t use an apostrophe for “its” in this case. 
  2.  “Though” and “Thought” — Easy one to mess up and miss the letter to on thought or add it to though. 
  3. “You’re” and “Your” — “You’re” can be expanded to “you are.” If that doesn’t fit, use “your.”
  4. “They’re”, “Their”, and “There” — Expand “they’re” to “they are.” If that’s incorrect, decide if you’re indicating possession (“their”) or a location/place (“there”).
  5. “We’re”, “Were”, and “Where” — “We’re” can be expanded to “we are.” Use “were” as the past tense of “are,” and “where” when referring to a place.
  6. “Who’s” and “Whose” — Expand “who’s” to “who is” or “who has.” If that’s not fitting, use “whose” for possession as in “Whose shoes are these?”
  7. “Who” and “Whom” — Who is used when referring to the subject of a sentence. The subject is the one doing the action. Whom is used when referring to the object of a sentence. The object is receiving the action.Who/Whom took the last cookie? -> He took the last cookie. (So, “who” is correct.) If you can replace it with “he” or “she,” use “who.” If “him” or “her” fits, use “whom.” Who/Whom took the last cookie? -> He took the last cookie. (So, “who” is correct.) To who/whom was the last cookie given? -> The last cookie was given to him. (So, “whom” is correct.)
  8. “Then” and “Than” — “Then” refers to time passing. “Then I went to the mall. “Than” is a comparison: “That costs more than this.”
  9. “Accept” and “except” — Accept conveys agreement or receipt and “except” signifies exclusion.“Accept” and “except”: Accept means to receive or agree to something, while except signifies an exclusion.
  10. “Affect” and “effect” — Affect is a verb meaning to influence something, and effect is a noun referring to the outcome or result.
  11. “Complement” and “compliment” — Complement means something that completes or goes well with something, while compliment refers to praise.
  12. “Principal” and “principle” — Principal can refer to the main person or thing in a particular context, while principle refers to a fundamental truth or proposition.
  13. “Stationary” and “stationery” — Stationary means not moving, and stationery refers to writing materials.
  14. “Loose” and “lose” — Loose describes something not tight or contained, and lose means to fail to keep or maintain something.
  15. “Advice” and “advise” — Advice is a noun meaning guidance or recommendations, whereas advise is a verb meaning to give advice.
  16. “Altar” and “alter” — Altar is a sacred table in religious contexts, and alter means to change something.
  17. “Bare” and “bear” — Bare means uncovered or without adornment, and bear can mean to carry or to endure.
  18. “Bored” and “board” — Bored means feeling weary because of a lack of interest, while board refers to a flat piece of material or to get on a vehicle.
  19. “Brake” and “break” — Brake refers to the device used to stop a vehicle, and break means to separate into pieces or to interrupt.
  20. “Course” and “coarse” — Course refers to the path or direction something takes, while coarse means rough or not smooth.
  21. “Cite,” “site”, and “sight” — Cite means to quote as evidence, site refers to a location, and sight is the ability to see.
  22. “Complacent” and “complaisant” — Complacent means being self-satisfied with an unawareness of danger or defect, while complaisant means willing to please others.
  23. “Elicit” and “illicit” — Elicit means to draw out a response or fact, while illicit refers to something that is not legally permitted.
  24. “Flair” and “flare” — Flair refers to a natural talent or stylishness, and flare is a sudden burst of light or emotion.
  25. “Lead” and “led” — Lead, as a verb, means to guide or direct, while led is the past tense of lead. Lead, as a noun, also refers to a metal.
  26. “Passed” and “past” — Passed is the past tense of pass, meaning to move past or to hand over, while past refers to the time before now or beyond a certain point.
  27. “Capital” and “capitol” — “Capital” can refer to wealth, a city serving as a seat of government, or an uppercase letter, while “capitol” refers specifically to a building where a legislative body meets.
  28. Cereal” and “serial” — “Cereal” is a breakfast food made from processed grains, and “serial” relates to something occurring in a series.
  29. “Compliment” and “complement” — “Compliment” is an expression of praise or admiration, whereas “complement” means something that completes or goes well with something.
  30. “Council” and “counsel” — “Council” refers to an advisory or legislative group, while “counsel” can mean advice given or the act of giving advice, often legal.
  31. “Desert” and “dessert” — “Desert” as a noun refers to a barren, sandy landscape, but as a verb, it means to abandon. “Dessert” is the sweet course of a meal. Remember, dessert is so good you want more of it, so one more s!
  32. “Discreet” and “discrete” — “Discreet” means careful and circumspect in one’s speech or actions, while “discrete” means individually separate and distinct.
  33. “Elicit” and “illicit” — “Elicit” means to evoke or draw out a response, answer, or fact, whereas “illicit” refers to something that is not legally permitted or authorized.
  34. “Ensure” and “insure” — “Ensure” means to make certain that something will occur, while “insure” refers to the act of securing financial protection against loss or damage, typically through an insurance policy.
  35. “Farther” and “further” — “Farther” refers to physical distance, while “further” is used for metaphorical distance or to indicate additional degree or extent.
  36. “Flair” and “flare” — “Flair” means a natural talent or stylishness, while “flare” is a sudden burst of fire or light.
  37. “Flaunt” and “flout” — “Flaunt” means to show off something ostentatiously, while “flout” means to openly disregard a rule, law, or convention.
  38. “Hoarse” and “horse” — “Hoarse” describes a rough or harsh-sounding voice, often due to a sore throat, while “horse” is an animal.
  39. “Lead” and “led” — “Lead” is a heavy metal (noun) or to go in front (verb, present tense), while “led” is the past tense of the verb “lead.”
  40. “Loose” and “lose” — “Loose” means not tight or free, whereas “lose” means to be deprived of or fail to win.
  41. “Moral” and “morale” — “Moral” relates to principles of right and wrong behavior, while “morale” refers to the spirit, confidence, or enthusiasm of a group or individual.
  42. “Palette” and “palate” — “Palette” is a board for mixing paints or a range of colors, while “palate” refers to the taste or preference in flavors, or anatomically, the roof of the mouth.
  43. “Peak,” “peek,” and “pique” — “Peak” refers to the highest point, like a mountain peak, “peek” means a quick or secret look, and “pique” is to stimulate interest or curiosity.
  44. “Pray” and “prey” — “Pray” means to communicate with a deity, especially with earnest intent, while “prey” refers to an animal hunted or caught for food or the victim of exploitation.
  45. “Principal” and “principle” — “Principal” can mean the head of a school or the primary amount of money, while “principle” refers to a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior.
  46. “Public” and “pubic: Not one you want to mess up! Thanks to Jonathan Jordan for this one. 
  47. Wonton and Wanton” — “Wonton” is a type of dumpling. “Wanton” is an adjective meaning “deliberate and unprovoked”. 
  48. “Wroth” and “Wrath” — Wrath means anger (noun). Wroth means angry and it’s an adjective.

Most Common Repeated Words 

 

  1. “The the”
  2. “Can can”
  3. “And and”
  4. “In in”
  5. “To to”
  6. “Of of”
  7. “For for”
  8. “It it”
  9. “This this”
  10. “That that” (Sometimes, “that that” can be correct, depending on the sentence structure, but it’s often redundant and the sentence can easily be reworded.)\
  11. “Had had” (Like “that that,” “had had” can be grammatically correct in certain contexts, particularly when using the past perfect tense, but it’s often used mistakenly.)

Most Common Misspelled Words That Autocorrect Might Not Catch

 

  1. “teh” instead of “the”
  2. “form” instead of “from”
  3. “adn” instead of “and”
  4. “thier” instead of “their”
  5. “definately” instead of “definitely”
  6. “seperate” instead of “separate”
  7. “loose” instead of “lose”
  8. “recieve” instead of “receive”
  9. “wich” instead of “which”
  10. “accomodate” instead of “accommodate”
  11. “untill” instead of “until”
  12. “occured” instead of “occurred”
  13. “publically” instead of “publicly”
  14. “miniscule” instead of “minuscule”
  15. “principle” instead of “principal”
  16. “compliment” instead of “complement”
  17. “persue” instead of “pursue”
  18. “ommision” instead of “omission”

Have any of your own to add?

Comment below.

-Jordan