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Printing Your Novel to Edit by Hand

     I edit by hand.
     Many writers edit great on the computer, I'm just that kind of person. I have always done my best editing, when I edit by hand. And there are many benefits to editing by hand:
  1. It's easy to reference material and hold multiple places in the pages.
  2. It gives you the freedom of editing without an computer or tablet.
  3. Having printed pages allow you to have the full layout of the story in a physical glance. (Sometimes it's hard to get a good idea of where things happen in a computer document.)
  4. You can see the progression of edits simultaneously, the change you're making and the previous way it was.
  5. It offers a change and sometimes well needed break from the typing aspect of writing.
     But with edition by hand also comes the challenge of printing the story.
     Printing a novel is never a simple task. I am blessed to have a large printer/copier in my home, but this luxury is not a normal house hold appliance. I have printed a large story three or four times, and I've definitely learned ways to save pages and still be effective.
  1. "Save as" your story as an editing copy so you don't have to undo your format changes when it's time to transfer the edits back onto your digital document.
  2. Change the orientation to "landscape."
  3. Use a double column for your text.
  4. Shrink your margins and text until you are comfortable. Small text gives me a headache, but I'm comfortable making my story 1.5 spaced not 2 spaced.
  5. Use page numbers. These will be different than the copy you will have to type you edits in to, but it's still helpful to have page numbers. You can refer to pages within the format your editing, even if the numbers won't be relevent to the normal digital copy.
  6. Do yourself a favor and don't do double-sided. If you shrink your margins and do double-side, you remove almost all your space to write changes. I'm constantly using the opposite blank page to write changes.

     Your probably going to end up spending some money to print your book, but there are measures you can take to try to get the best price. By shortening the number of pages like we did above, you already cut down on price.
  1. See if a friend has a printer you can borrow. Then you're just paying for paper.
  2. Check the price of printing at a library, it might be cheaper than going to a place like Staples.
     Printing a story is, for the most part, pretty straight forward, but there are some things I have found extremely helpful. Here are some extra tips.
  1. Get a binder. The last thing you want is loose pages floating around. You don't need anything fancy, but a three ring binder will become your best friend.
  2. Take advantage of using physical pages. I mark each chapter with a sticky note. I can group pages and move entire scenes if I need to.
  3. Use the opposite page to edit. When I have large text I'm changing, I mark it, then write the next text on the opposite page.
  4. You can always add hand written pages on notebook paper.
     This pretty much sums up my knowledge of printing novels to hand edit. Have you ever done this before?
What have you found helpful?



  1. These are great tips, I prefer paper editing too. We have a laser printer, and it's great for printing out books, but I can't do it all the time because the toner is almost as expensive as the printer. I never tried to switch to landscape or save it as an edit, so this is super helpful.

    1. I am so glad you found this helpful, Skye : )

  2. I haven't tried paper editing. I edit for a website so I do editing on my computer most of the time. I'd like to try paper editing sometimes, but the price is always the hitch for me. ^ ^' Ink is expensive.

    1. That's so cool that you get to edit for a magazine, Victoria.


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