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So I thought I’d put together a post with ALL of my recommended tools for proofreaders rolled into one. (Update: I keep getting more recommendations AND finding additional awesome proofreading tools to use, so I’ve included a few more in here for you!)
Books/References for Transcript Proofreading
These are the three supplemental references we recommend for students enrolled in Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice™ course. We teach the course based on these manuals, and while the references are not required to succeed, they are great supplements and can be incredibly helpful.
Morson’s English Guide for Court Reporters, Second Edition — our entire proofreading program is based on this guidebook. It’s pricy because it’s been out of print since the mid ’90s, but it’s still highly regarded as the “bible” for court reporting punctuation.
One Word, Two Words, Hyphenated? — A VERY good reference and learning tool to help you overcome the common confusion related to hyphenation. (Really good for general proofreading students, as well!)
The Gregg Reference Manual — arguably the second most commonly used reference in the court reporting world, The Gregg Reference Manual offers a less expensive and more recent alternative to Morson’s Guide.
Hungry for more? Try these.
Legal Terminology for Transcription and Court Reporting — a textbook guide to the terminology you’ll find within transcripts. There are quite a few online references for these terms as well, but if you’re one of those people who likes a hard copy, this is a worthy investment.
The Court Reporter’s Reference of Commonly Used Words and Phrases — For all intensive intents and purposes, this is a SUPER handy book for helping identify the misuse of these words and phrases, too!
UPDATE: I am happy to announce that we have had the pleasure of interviewing THE Margie Wakeman Wells, grammar and punctuation expert for the court reporting industry! Her reference manuals have quickly made it to the top of our most recommended resources, and we invite you to head on over to see what she has to say!
Books/References for General Proofreading + Freelancing
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (CMOS) — This is the main text I referenced while creating the General Proofreading course. In fact, all the practice worksheets and essays in the class are based on CMOS. Having that style guide on hand is critical to your success in the class. It will help you through those practice exercises AND give you some hands-on practice doing research at the same time. Depending on your preferences, you can purchase the hard copy or sign up for an online subscription. CMOS offers a FREE 30-day online trial, and after that, it’s only $39/year for the online version. It’s invaluable to your success not just in the course but in your general proofreading career!
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition — This is the second resource I used when creating the GP course. You have lots of options here! You can purchase the hard copy, access the dictionary for free online, or you can pay for the online yearly subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged as it also includes the Collegiate Dictionary and the Medical Dictionary. That subscription is $29.95/year.
The Freelancer’s Bible — one of the most common questions we get is whether or not we can help our students establish and manage their businesses as freelancers. The answer is YES, and this book is one of the tools we recommend our students have in their arsenal. At $10 and change, it’s a steal to have all the information you need to run your freelance business at your fingertips.
McGraw Hill’s Proofreading Handbook (for general proofreading): This comprehensive guide provides you with all the tools of the trade, giving you valuable sample style sheets, proofreading checklists, a list of commonly misspelled words, and a chart of proofreading symbols — everything you need to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
The Pocket Book of Proofreading — a handy mini-guide to the business side of things in the general proofreading world.
The Best Punctuation Book, Period is easily my favorite. It’s an all-in-one reference for book, magazine, online, academic, and business writers. Author June Casagrande makes it super easy to look up sticky punctuation questions for all styles including AP, MLA, APA, and the Chicago Manual of Style.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is a robust book with real-world examples and excellent quizzes to test your knowledge.
A Bat Cannot Bat, A Stair Cannot Stare — Got kids? Buy them this book! It’s an EXCELLENT choice for kids and adults alike. You are guaranteed to learn something you didn’t already know about sound-alike words.
Spelling-Words-Well.com has a ton of free printable spelling activities for both adults and kids! They also have a world-class selection of affordable eBooks that can be used for homeschooling or just fun learning activities.
Find the Errors! Proofreading Activities and Find the Errors II — these books are technically designed for students, but we find the activities really useful to help train and sharpen your eyes. If you’re not quite the right fit for proofreading as a profession but would like to sharpen your eye for error (we think that’s a GREAT idea — proofreading is such an important skill for anyone in any industry!), we recommend these exercises to help you do so.
Phunny Stuph: Proofreading Exercises With a Sense of Humor — an activity book that helps you identify errors by proofreading jokes! Great for all ages.
Equipment We Recommend to Help You Get the Job Done
Apple iPad mini 2, 16 GB — the iPad model I most recommend (although I have a 32GB model, 16GB is enough). For those who want the larger model, I recommend the iPad Air. If you don’t know, go to Best Buy and hold both in your hands to try them.
Otterbox Defender Series Case + Screen Protector Combo for iPad Mini — the very same case and screen protector system I have on my own iPad. Makes it water resistant, shatter-proof (if you drop it, it won’t break!), and is made of a nice grippy material.
Case, Handle, and Stand all in one — this combo is not only a great deal, it makes it easy to hold your iPad mini in your hand or stand it up while you sit at a desk.
Aluminum Wireless Case + Keyboard — a really good-looking option for someone who prefers to use a keyboard with their iPad mini.
10-Pack of Styluses — No more greasy iPad screens! At $7.99 for 10, you can totally afford to have a stylus or two in every room or on every surface of your house!
Equipment to Help You Focus
Noise-Canceling Headphones — it’s a lot easier to “proofread anywhere” when the noises and sounds of your life aren’t always interrupting! (Note: These are just under $30 and get some really great reviews on Amazon! If you want to take it to the next level, you could get Bose’s QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones, but they aren’t cheap :-D)
Brown Noise .mp3 — I use this $0.99 brown noise .mp3 when I’m in a noisy hotel room or when my husband has the TV on.
Liquid Mind audio CDs/.mp3 — for those who like soothing, no-vocals music in the background to help them focus. I also like Pandora, but every 20 minutes or so, a commercial comes on and ruins my focus 🙂
[Affiliate disclaimer: I do receive a teeny-tiny commission if you choose to purchase one of the products listed on this post (emphasis on the tiny!!). You can rest assured I only recommend what I know works and what works for students in the PA community.]
Looking for even more recommendations? Check out this resource page where I talk about my favorite tools and resources for building your website, running your freelance business, and even keeping fit!
What’s your favorite tool or resource for proofreaders? Share below (links are welcome)! Let’s get a LONG list going!