How do I correct a French text?

Correcting a French text

The hunt for typos is tedious...

Correcting a text in French is a profession. Most copywriters will tell you so. It's hard not to write a text without typos or bugs, whatever the editing method. writing used. Spelling correction proofreading is an art that requires a perfect command of the French language, its grammar and typography. Whether you use a word-processing tool that automatically corrects mistakes or not, you should be aware that your ability to proofread well diminishes the more you proofread yourself. This can be the result of fatigue, but it can also be the result of the process of reading and correcting the text itself.

Reading, a call to form.

When we read, we recognise the letters that make up a word. If the word is familiar to us, it's because its particular shape is familiar to us and has already been stored in our memory. The reading process therefore consists, for words that are familiar to us, in spotting the letters that form words with a familiar shape. When we come across a new word, our eyes focus on each sign and decode the word. Once we have identified the shape of the word, we quickly move on to the next one, even if it means omitting the details of its spelling. These automatic processes sometimes lead our brain to correct the text unconsciously. When the form of a word is not correct, it is capable of correcting typos without alerting us! A single misspelled word still goes unnoticed. An error in conjugation or spelling, or a grammatical turn of phrase that makes the form of a word unfamiliar, naturally arouse our attention.

Rereading, sign to sign.

To make sure you don't miss anything, you should reread sign by sign, which, let's face it, requires very close attention. The trick to slowing down your natural tendency to recognise a word or group of words and move on to the next is to spell it out. It's effective, but very difficult to apply if you're proofreading a long text. Any good proofreader will tell you that.

To correct a French text effectively, print your text.

Print: even if this advice is not environmentally friendly, if your reader is going to print the text you submit to them, they will see the text in its final format, i.e. formatted. By printing it out, you will be in a better position to see whether your formatting is appropriate. Make a PDF file of it first, which you will send to your contact, and print the PDF file rather than the document in its native format (that of your word processor, OpenOffice, Libre Office, Microsoft Word or equivalent).

Give yourself some time.

Let your prose rest for a few hours. The effort and attention required for effective proofreading can quickly cause fatigue that only time can alleviate. Go back to your text the day after you've written it, and you'll have a fresh, sharper eye. Share it with others and listen to their suggestions for corrections.

Check spelling with Word...

But don't let him correct the texts on his own!

Having a text corrected by the spellchecker in Word or Libreoffice is not always enough. Obvious spelling mistakes are usually underlined and it is up to you to check the proposed correction and then tick the right box. Automatic corrections, especially grammatical ones, are difficult for a system that does not understand the writer's intentions. Spotting mistakes becomes difficult for any spell-checking software, even if it incorporates the rules of French grammar.

Use online proofreaders.

The best CorrectionOnline software is here to correct your texts in French. They also exist for Spanish and English.

But the best spellcheckers aren't free: Cordial, Scribens, Reverso or Antidote... In general, they come in the form of a "plugin" that you can access in your word processor or browser (Chrome or Firefox), so you can use them in WordPress. They have been designed to find and correct errors automatically and to correct your texts accurately! By paying for your spellchecker, you can be sure that your text will be error-free. With free tools, you can find tips for Word and improve the style of your texts. Use them to easily correct your texts and get a quick revision! A little research on the Internet will provide you with some effective proofreading aids or tell you how to correct the spelling of a text with Antidote. Even if no text-checker guarantees that you'll get it right, all good spell-checkers will enable you to quickly spot a large number of typos, syntax errors, grammatical mistakes or haphazard constructions, particularly from a grammatical point of view. Focus your attention on the underlined terms and check them carefully.

Here's a suggestion: dictionaries are not forbidden! In the absence of proofreading software such as the Robert correcteur, reading the Petit Robert, Larousse or Grévisse gives you a decisive advantage over the Wiktionnaire when it comes to proofreading French.

Their printed versions also outperform any automatic proofreader when it comes to handwritten letters!

Take the law into your own hands!

As a professional proofreader, take care to read your text aloud and clearly. You'll then be able to correct any lengthy passages and spot any punctuation or syntax errors. Better still, ask your friends and family to attend your proofreading session. The questions raised by your performance will enable you to adapt your corrected text to your readership or audience.

Check for consistency and focus on repetition.

It's easy to avoid repetition by using technology. Take your corpus of text and put it through the word cloud mill (, or TagCrowd (, You'll soon get an overview of frequent words and be able to correct them easily.

Then spot any typographical inconsistencies. To do this, use the Find/Replace function in your tool for inverted commas or apostrophes.

Pay particular attention to the use of upper and lower case letters. There are very specific rules for their use. Don't hesitate to spend a few minutes on the Internet to refresh your memory on how to respect these conventions.

Finally, check the headings several times. These are often neglected paragraphs where mistakes can creep in.

Happy rereading!

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