How do you proofread your work?
#1  MarjaE 03-04-2020, 11:07 PM
I'm writing up notes for historical games.

I'm drawing on several different sources, so it's easy to miss something as I jump about, checking and referencing one source, and then checking and referencing another.

I used to print these out to proofread them, but that's a lot of extra printing. I could export to mobi, and copy to my Kindle, but that's not much good for taking notes beyond bookmarks to the affected pages. And I think there'll be a lot of these pages.

Right now I'm trying to collect technical data and then translate it into game terms, so even without my hearing issues, I can't play it as audio like some writers do.

I have coordination and visual issues, so I haven't been able to use touch devices like tablets and newer e-readers.

#2  gmw 03-05-2020, 12:21 AM
Proofreading your own work can be very difficult because, as you no doubt already know, your brain keeps reading what it knows you intended rather than what is actually on the page. Even proofreading other people's work is difficult because our brains are wired to provide large amounts of auto-correct. (On the plus side, it means readers tend to miss at least some of our mistakes .)

So, aside from experience and education (that is, actually knowing whether something is right or wrong), the process requires that we find ways of making our brains see what is actually on the page. I'm not sure how professional editors do it, but here on MR various suggestions and advice has been offered, including...

* don't do too much at once (this level of concentration causes rapid fatigue and you will start missing things)

* work away from other distractions

* One great trick was put up a few years ago by Lemurion: "Start at the end of the book and read each sentence in turn going backwards." It's so simple, and it's free and a great way to force your focus to the right level for proofreading.

* My favourite is using text-to-speech software that will read my text back to me. I use TextAloud by NextUp - it's not free, but it's not very expensive ... until you go shopping for extra voices. But I like it. I bought a few different voices so I can chop and change for variety. I copy the text into the TextAloud window so that it will highlight each sentence as it reads, and I can play with the speed to get what I want.

* Learn the things you often get wrong (my fingers have certain things they screw up quite regularly even though I know better) and set up searches to help you explicitly check for these problems. (These will evolve over time as you gradually train out your worst habits.)

There is also a wide variety of grammar and editor software out there, but while these can be useful to help you find things to check, for a lot of it you need to know what you're doing in order to only take their advice when it's right and to ignore it otherwise - which begs the question of whether you need the software in the first place. But some also offer analysis of repeated phrases and other such attributes that are rather harder to simply see, and so that can be useful. The last such software I used seems to have disappeared, maybe others will have suggestions or opinions on current options ... anyway, this is moving into editing rather than proofreading.

#3  GlenBarrington 03-05-2020, 09:09 AM
Proofread is for babies!

#4  Quoth 03-05-2020, 09:23 AM
Read loads of books. Also outside your genre.
Take a break to forget the book after writing/edit.
Proofread on an ereader. Certainly never on a laptop or tablet.
Proofread and edit loads of lesser known gutenberg texts. To edit, export as RTF from Calibre and then save in WP native format. Do a Save As in "docx" to re-import to Calibre.

WARNING: I'm rubbish at Pearl specifically, and Regex in particular. Older MS Word might not do these, but LO Writer is free, and you can interchange with Word if your styles are done properly. In last resort use RTF.

Learn Regex to find stuff not obvious in reading (examples for LO Writer):
Replace all tabs \t with spaces.
Replace all pairs of spaces with space till none found.
Check that — and … against quotes have the correct quote type. Bug on some Wordprocessors.

Do these next two in turn with Find Next only. To see if dialogue after a speech tag after dialogue is wrong. In LO Writer you need to tick Case Sensitive too.
first \, “[A-Z] (Note an Uppercase MIGHT be correct)
then \.” [a-z] (Note a . if the text after closing quote is an Action is correct, but if it can be construed as a tag, then it's likely lower case and . should be ,)

Find with NOT case sensitive. It should find headings only as regular text body paragraphs always end with punctuation.

Other errors (Find with Case Sensitive), like missing spaces or erroneous spaces:
[a-z][ ][“] [“][ ] [ a-z][”] [.a-zA-Z][“] [,.][“a-zA-Z] [ ][\.] \.” [a-z] \, “[A-Z]

Probably someone expert at regex can think of more, or combine some or do it better.
Regex search and replace with these to remove leading spaces, trailing spaces and blank paragraphs
^[ ] [ ]$ ^$

The ideal is to have someone expert proof read.
A good proof reader and a good beta reader are not the same person.

If editing in annotations from proof reading, Save As an incremented version. Only edit in the typos. Mark passages to be deleted, rewritten or added with a ¬ or something. Save As and increment version
Always Save As and increment before deleting a passage.
Always make backups.
Always Save frequently and have Auto Save on, but at about 15 minutes.

#5  MarjaE 03-05-2020, 03:55 PM
Thank you, but my main concerns are missing important info in an entry or in a footnote. Search tools are better at finding what is there than what isn't, but should be, or at what is there, but with the wrong data.

I don't have a space free from sensory bombardment to focus. I don't want to add even more sensory bombardment from text-to-speech.

I have less trouble reading on an e-reader, but I'm not sure how to track the missing data.

#6  gmw 03-05-2020, 07:03 PM
In that case you are not really talking about proofreading - which is the final step before publication and is about detecting errors in the text (that is there), or artwork where relevant, or layout issues.

What you're looking for is generally called a Technical Reviewer - one or more experts in the field to review what you've written for correctness and completeness. Much the same problem as with proofreading, the creator will have trouble seeing problems in their own work, so the input from outsiders is invaluable.

#7  VydorScope 03-05-2020, 09:25 PM
Quote MarjaE
I have less trouble reading on an e-reader, but I'm not sure how to track the missing data.
Pen and paper. Take notes. The act of writing will help you slow down too.

#8  Quoth 03-06-2020, 05:06 AM
Searching for what isn't there can only be done by searching for what might be there and shouldn't be. I remember over 25 years ago learning SQL and realising that searches can only return what is in the database.

Finding stuff missing is a draft review and is really hard, not real proof reading. A beta reader can help, but no-one can spot what's in your head that you never committed to paper.

A week or too after taking notes on paper I might not understand them or know which piece of paper. So I started to enter notes into the computer in an organised fashion. I tried my own local "wiki" for a while. It's really worth while using Notepad++ (Windows), KATE (Linux) or Jota (Android phone). I do still print and annotate some data like timelines on paper, then update the spreadsheet / text file.
I use a spreadsheet to track the status of all the projects and authors as it's not enough data (also single user) to make setting up an SQL database worth while.

#9  Quoth 03-06-2020, 05:13 AM
Quote MarjaE
I have less trouble reading on an e-reader, but I'm not sure how to track the missing data.
Add an annotation overlapping the place in the ebook version it should be. On import back to computer and creating annotation_<title>_<version>.txt you'll have the missing info and the highlighted context as well as the chapter/location/percentage of book. Then in a window beside, open the original Word / Writer document.
The Kobo + Calibre Kobo Utilities is better than the Kindle, but I have done it on a Kindle PW3. You can also enable in the Kobo config (no patching), an extra menu item for each book to export the Kobo annotations to a text file just for that book, unlike Kindle myclippings.txt which has all the annotations from all books

#10  MarjaE 03-07-2020, 10:52 PM
I'd rather not print more notes out. I've got boxes and boxes of old work I'd printed out, and taken notes on.

Once I start typing up the notes, and reorganizing things, it's harder to work with the rest of the notes.

I'd rather not rely on annotations either, since my Kindle is kinda slow and it presents the same problem. I cannot use tablets or other touch devices.

I use NeoOffice and LibreOffice NBC to write. I am using a temporarily reduced page size, 8.5"x5.5" to make it easier to work with footnotes. I cannot use LibreOffice standard. I haven't found any separate note-taking software which works with my accessibility needs.

P.S. My best idea is to keep everything organized, and label each section header with "to do" or "redo" or "update" if appropriate. But if I decide to add more info to each entry, that may invalidate the old labels.

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