How do I correct a French text?

Correcting a French text

The hunt for typos is tedious...

Proofreading in French is a profession. Most copywriters will tell you so. It's hard not to write a text free of typos and bumblebees, whatever the editing method. writing used. Spell checking 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 diminishes the more you proofread yourself. This may be due to fatigue, but also to the process of reading and correcting the text itself.

Reading, a call to form.

When we read, we recognize 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 been previously 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 outline. When we come across a new word, our eye stops on each sign and decodes the word, which we'll take on board as we read. Once we've identified the shape of the word, we're quick to move on to the next, 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 renders 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 a lot of attention. The trick to slowing down your natural tendency to recognize one 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 French text efficiently, print your text.

Print: even if this tip isn't environmentally friendly, if your reader is going to print the text you submit, they'll see it in its final, formatted format. By printing it, you'll be in a better position to see whether your formatting is appropriate. Make a PDF file of it first, which you'll send to your contact, and print the PDF file rather than the document in 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. Revisit your text the day after you've written it, and you'll have a fresh, sharper perspective. Share it and listen to any suggestions for correction.

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 isn't always enough. Obvious spelling mistakes are usually underlined, and it's up to you to check the proposed correction, then tick the right box. Automatic corrections, especially grammatical ones, are difficult for a system that doesn't understand the writer's intentions. Spotting errors becomes difficult for any spell-checking software, even when it integrates the rules of French grammar.

Use online proofreaders.

The best CorrectionOnline software is here to correct your French texts. 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" accessible in your word processor or browser (Chrome or Firefox), which means they can also be used in WordPress. They've been designed to automatically find and correct errors, so you can accurately proofread your texts! When you pay for a 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 effective proofreading aids, or tell you how to correct the spelling of a text with Antidote. Even if no text checker guarantees you a flawless text, all good spellcheckers will enable you to quickly identify a large number of drone 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 correction software such as Robert Correcteur, reading Petit Robert, Larousse or Grévisse gives you a decisive advantage over Wiktionnaire when it comes to correcting French.

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


As a professional proofreader, take care to read your text aloud and clearly. You'll then be able to correct any length, punctuation or syntax errors. Better still, ask your friends and family to attend your proofreading session. The questions generated 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 typographical inconsistencies. To do this, use your tool's Find/Replace function for quotation marks 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, double-check headings and intertitles. These are often neglected paragraphs in which mistakes are allowed to creep in.

Happy rereading!

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