Not done one of these for a while so thought I would post something short and simple.
One of the most common errors I see when copy editing is inconsistency and here I don’t mean in voice or plot or style, I simply mean spelling, hyphenation or use of capitals in words especially where alternative forms are acceptable.
I even see the same word spelled in a different way in the next line and I wonder why the writer doesn’t see it, but then again we all do it. We get caught up in the drama and the flow of our narrative we forget the nuts and bolts stuff. And to some extent assume an editor will take care of it. But if you’re trying to find a publisher, getting the nuts and bolts stuff right is a reflection of polish and professionalism, so get into good habits and it becomes second nature.
So for example OK and okay used interchangeably, ok is strictly speaking incorrect.
to the east/to the East (actually here there is no need for the capital in east)
a ten-year-old/a ten year old — again here when used in this way it is more acceptable to use hyphens
twenty one/twenty-one (hyphens are most commonly used form)
realise/realize (z is the more US form but more accepted now but if you use it, you have to be consistent, so look at things like, recognise, sterilise, actualise: use a z in one of these, use it in all! I prefer s which is more UK!
And many more… when either form is acceptable then choose one and stick to that. Use Find and Replace in Word as a double check when proofing your ms.
That is all!