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Proofread Like A Pro (June 2011)
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Proofread Like A Pro (June 2011)

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The presentation I compiled for the Media Trust's June 2011 Proofread Like A Pro seminar - a crash course in proofreading for charity communications professionals. …

The presentation I compiled for the Media Trust's June 2011 Proofread Like A Pro seminar - a crash course in proofreading for charity communications professionals.

Produced while employed at Redhouse Lane Communications Ltd - www.redhouselane.com

Published in: Education, Technology
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  • Any decisions about content and style have already been made Proofreader enforces those decisions Last line of defence: proofreader should be the last person allowed to make alterations before the copy becomes public
  • Don’t rely on instinct – your instinct is to ignore certain errors
  • See what’s there: refer to previous slide Four eyes: don’t try to proof something you wrote Backwards technique is for spelling only Against copy: for double-checking that amendments have been implemented (for copy with multi-stage approvals) Easier to spot errors in hard copy; easier to mark up corrections on screen
  • Knowing when NOT to amend is a superior skill to knowing when TO amend Everyone’s time: proofreader’s, typesetter’s, sometimes writer’s/managers’
  • Are any of these setting off anyone’s cringe reflex?
  • What people think of first when they think of proofreading, but not often a huge part of the job Step 1: learn to spot errors Step 2: learn to guess accurately HOW errors have occurred – this helps when trying to work out what to correct it TO Correctly spelled misspellings: vile / vole (i/o adjacent), bit / but (i/u adjacent)
  • Phonetically correct: limm, jiofizziks, newmattic Homophones: Jim / gym, carrot / carat, birth / berth, slay / sleigh Made-up words: misunderestimate Farther: physical distance; further: to a greater degree
  • Only incorrect when inconsistent If unsure of the writer’s intended style for the text, stay alert for variable words and track which option has most instances
  • British norm is to space out, American norm is to close up Note grown-up/grownup/grown up and in-depth/indepth/in depth, where spacing out alters meaning from one part of speech to another “ She has grown up” versus “She is a grownup/grown-up” “ An in-depth interview” versus “She covered the subject in depth”
  • More about styleguides later
  • 5 mins Not all options have only one right answer, some have more, some have fewer
  • Does to written text what hand gestures, intonation, pauses, facial expressions do to speech. Only 7% of communication is verbal, rest communicated by other factors; punctuation stands in for those other factors in written text
  • Comma splice: sits between two independent clauses (i.e. either could be a standalone sentence) – returning to this in Grammar, so skim
  • Apostrophe misuse is very noticeable to certain (i.e. middle class) demographics – misuse them and people will look down their noses, more so than for any other punctuation error
  • Bad breaks change the pronunciation of the word in the reader’s head Sometimes you need to stet hard hyphens to distinguish them from soft ones
  • Ignorance of different dash types outside publishing / typesetting is widespread, endemic – learn the difference and you can never go back, like when someone points out the singer in your favourite band breathes really loudly between lines CONSISTENT TRUMPS CORRECT You should be able to remove a parenthetical aside entirely without affecting the sense of the sentence
  • Material following a full colon need not be able to stand alone as a sentence. Material following a semicolon must be able to stand alone as a sentence Use semicolons to divide list items when the list items contain commas – reduces ambiguity
  • Exclamation point aka screamer, bang, splat Interrobang invented in 1962 by ad agency head Martin K. Speckter to improve the look of ad copy lines Like swearwords, screamers suffer from the law of diminishing returns
  • Punctuate this passage!
  • Comma splice: change comma to another mark; split into 2 sentences; insert coordinating conjunction; make one clause dependent on the other; insert semicolon/dash+conjunctive adverb Tautology=repetition of same idea in different words: a huge great big man, say it over again once more Pleonasm=use of unnecessary word that is implicit in the word it describes: two halves, big giant, round circle
  • These get people wound up disproportionately but actually they’re “just horrible” Always amend in formal communications
  • Actually wrong. Causes ambiguity / confusion, turns off readers.
  • Actually wrong – ambiguity, confusion, sometimes make you sound ridiculous
  • Online correction marks pdf from De Montfort University, Leicester Demonstrate marks on flipchart / whiteboard (use “Redhouse Lane” or “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”)
  • “ becautilise”
  • Tone of voice: technically the writer’s / copy-editor’s responsibility, but it would be unprofessional not to keep it in mind
  • Compiling / maintaining a styleguide: initially time-consuming, but pays off in the long run. Not enough organisations have one; not enough that do maintain them.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Proofread Like A Pro Media Trust 21 June 2011
    • 2. Welcome
      • Matt Boothman
      • Copywriter
      • Redhouse Lane
    • 3. Aims
      • After this session, you should know:
      • how to spot spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes
      • how mistakes happen and how to fix them
      • which common mistakes to look out for, and which aren’t mistakes at all
      • when to be a pedant and when to walk away
      • how a house style can help to keep your organisation consistent
      • plenty of techniques, tips and tricks to help you proofread efficiently and accurately
    • 4. Agenda
      • General principles
      • Spelling
      • Punctuation
      • Grammar
      • BREAK
      • Proof correction marks
      • House style
      • Put it all together
    • 5. General principles
    • 6. What does a proofreader do?
      • Do:
      • correct spelling, punctuation and grammar errors
      • enforce existing house style and consistency guidelines
      • eliminate unintended ambiguity
      • query facts and figures
      • Don’t:
      • rephrase, restructure or rewrite
      • countermand existing house style or consistency guidelines
      • alter facts or figures
      The proofreader is the last line of defence
    • 7. A different way of reading
      • Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
    • 8. A different way of reading
      • First, skim for sense
      • Second, deep-read word by word
      • See what’s there, not what you expect
      • Four eyes good, two eyes bad
      • Take a teabreak
      • Try it backwards
      • Blind or against copy?
      • On-screen or hardcopy?
    • 9. When to leave ‘good enough’ alone
      • Is it actually wrong, or just horrible?
      • Does it get the message across?
      • What would be the knock-on effects of changing it?
      • Consistent sometimes trumps correct
      • Unnecessary corrections are a waste of everyone’s time and money
      • Only grammarvangelists use proofreading as a pulpit
    • 10. When to leave ‘good enough’ alone
      • Conjunctions beginning sentences
      • Split infinitives
      • Sentence-ending prepositions
      • Oxford commas
      • Numbers and figures
    • 11. Spelling
    • 12. Typographical errors (typos)
      • Missing characters (sticky / faulty keys)
      • Extra characters (multiple keys pressed at once)
      • Case / number / symbol confusion (shift key errors)
      • Repeated text / orphaned words (copy and paste errors)
      • Correctly spelled misspellings fool spellcheckers
      • American Spellchecker Syndrome
      • Overenthusiastic Autocorrect Syndrome
      • Copy-typing from handwritten text
    • 13. Orthographical errors (spelling mistakes)
      • Phonetically correct, technically not so much (guessing)
      • Homophones: same pronunciation, different meaning / spelling
      • Made-up words
      • Incorrect / misunderstood word usage
        • Effect / Affect
        • Further / Farther
    • 14. Variable spellings
      • British English
      • manoeuvre, aesthetic
      • defence, offence, pretence
      • centre, theatre, sceptre
      • sulphur
      • sceptic, mollusc
      • appal, fulfil, distil, enrol
      • mould, smoulder
      • catalogue, analogue
      • colour, humour, honour
      • analyse, paralyse, cosy
      • American English
      • maneuver, esthetic
      • defense, offense, pretense
      • center, theater, scepter
      • sulfur
      • skeptic, mollusk
      • appall, fulfill, distill, enroll
      • mold, smolder
      • catalog, analog
      • color, humor, honor
      • analyze, paralyze, cozy
    • 15. Variable spellings
      • ~ise versus ~ize endings
      • Both acceptable in British and American English
      • Oxford University Press traditionally uses ~ize
      • Some words always take ~ise:
      • advertise
      • chastise
      • demise
      • disguise
      • exercise
      • premise
      • surmise
      • advise
      • circumcise
      • despise
      • enfranchise
      • improvise
      • prise
      • surprise
      • apprise
      • comprise
      • devise
      • enterprise
      • incise
      • revise
      • televise
      • arise
      • compromise
      • disenfranchise
      • excise
      • merchandise
      • supervise
    • 16. Variable spellings
      • Spaced out
      • swear word
      • best selling
      • day to day
      • film making
      • forward slash
      • in depth
      • grown up
      • Hyphenated
      • co-operate
      • swear-word
      • best-selling
      • day-to-day
      • e-mail
      • film-making
      • forward-slash
      • in-depth
      • grown-up
      • Closed up
      • cooperate
      • swearword
      • bestselling
      • email
      • filmmaking
      • forwardslash
      • indepth
      • grownup
    • 17. Variable spellings
      • Consult styleguide
      • Flag in pencil
      • Make a note
      • Watch out for other uses
      • Consult or make a decision
      • Make it consistent
      • Add to styleguide
    • 18. Exercise 1
    • 19. Punctuation
    • 20. Commas
      • A short pause at the end of a clause or list item
      • The most overused punctuation mark in the English language
      • The Oxford Comma
        • For breakfast he ate eggs, bacon, and tomatoes.
        • Attending the funeral were her parents, the vicar and his dog.
      • The comma splice
        • I like swimming, I go to the pool every week.
    • 21. Apostrophes
      • Indicates:
        • Omission
        • Possession
      • The greengrocer’s apostrophe
        • Apple’s, turnip’s and pomegranate’s for sale!
        • Dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
      • Its / It’s
        • She fed the fish its food [the fish’s food].
        • It’s [It is] a seriously greedy fish.
    • 22. Dashes
      • Hyphens: “-”
      • Soft or discretionary hyphen
        • Bridges the separated halves of a word divided across two lines
        • Beware bad breaks: Arse-nal, read-just, leg-end
      • Hard hyphen
        • Joins together words or parts of words to form compounds
        • “ First-class report” or “First class report”?
    • 23. Dashes
      • En dashes: “ –”
      • Some people – mostly Britons – use them parenthetically
      • Used in ranges: “Pages 19–45”
      • To / And / Or
        • The Dover–Calais crossing
        • The Murray–Federer match
        • An on–off relationship
      • Em dashes: “—”
      • Some people—mainly Americans—use them parenthetically
      • Omission or redaction
        • It was in the year 19— that I first encountered the Earl of M—.
    • 24. Colons and semicolons
      • Colons:
      • introduce lists
      • deliver the goods invoiced in the preceding phrase
      • are equivalent to words like “namely”, “that is”, and “therefore”
      • Semicolons:
      • are stronger than commas but weaker than full points
      • divide list items introduced by colons
      • divide clauses that are related, but could stand alone as sentences
    • 25. Screamers and interrobangs
      • Rarely justifiable
      • Not a shortcut to an attention-grabbing statement
      • Advance warning of amateurish copy
      • Would the sentence be exciting without the bang?
      • Flag or query suspected overuse
      • “ Chancellor to cut tobacco duty by 0.1 per cent”
      • “ Chancellor to cut tobacco duty by 0.1 per cent!”
      • “ Chancellor to cut tobacco duty by 0.1 per cent!!!”
      • “ Chancellor to cut tobacco duty by 0.1 per cent?!”
    • 26. Exercise 2
    • 27.
      • Dear Jack I want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind and thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men I yearn for you I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart I can be forever happy will you let me be yours Jill
    • 28. Grammar
    • 29. Common grammar gripes
      • Comma splice / fused sentence
      • Sentence fragments
      • Split infinitives
      • Tautology / pleonasm / double negatives
      • Conjunctions beginning sentences
      • Passive voice
      • Actually wrong, or just horrible?
    • 30. Sentence-ending prepositions
      • Often something that’s ‘good enough’ to leave alone
      • Best avoided, but not by tying the sentence in knots
      • “ A preposition is a bad word to end a sentence with.”
      • “ This is something everyone wants to be a part of.”
      • “ This is the kind of language up with which I will not put!”
    • 31. Subject –verb and pronoun agreement
      • Identify the subject and the verb
      • Is the subject singular or plural?
      • Does the verb “agree”?
      • If the subject is a pronoun…
        • What noun is the pronoun replacing?
        • Is the noun singular or plural?
        • Does the pronoun “agree”?
        • Does the verb?
      • Is your organisation singular or plural?
    • 32. Dangling modifiers
      • A word or phrase that tries to modify something not present in the sentence
      • “ Sipping cocktails on the balcony, the moon looked magnificent.”
      • “ Sipping cocktails on the balcony, I admired the magnificent moon.”
      • “ Once recognised, the proofreader can fix the dangler.”
      • “ Once recognised, danglers are easy to fix.”
    • 33. Exercise 3
    • 34. Break
    • 35. Marking up corrections
    • 36. Marking up corrections on paper
      • Agree symbols with whoever will make the amendments
      • Red ink stands out, except when it doesn’t
      • Not 100% sure? Pencil it in
      • Circle your comments
      • Use both margins
      • Be unambiguous
      • http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~bstahl/CORRECTION_MARKS.pdf
    • 37. Marking up corrections on screen
      • Microsoft Word
      • Tools > Track Changes
      • Adobe Acrobat
      • Review & Comment > Text Edits
      • Resist the temptation to copy-edit
      • Global Find and Replace is the nuclear option
    • 38. House style
    • 39. House style
      • Tone of voice
      • Patterns of capitalisation
      • Expressing numbers and dates
      • Acceptable abbreviations
      • Formatting rules
      • Punctuation idiosyncrasies
      • Rulings on variable spelling
      • Rulings on variable hyphenation
    • 40. House style
      • Yes
      • Read it first
      • Note additions
      • Query deviations if necessary
      • Bundle list of additions with marked-up proofs
      • No
      • Compile it as you go along
      • Ensure it’s available to proofreaders in the future
      Is there an existing house style guide?
    • 41. Final exercise
    • 42. Proofreader’s checklist
      • Pencilled corrections erased, confirmed or flagged as queries
      • Running heads / footers, page numbers
      • Graphics, charts, illustrations and other figures
      • Table of contents, index, footnotes
      • Placeholder text
      • Marked-up proofs dated and initialled in a circle
      • Page lengths / widths
      • Section headings / chapter titles
      • Last-minute alterations
      • Update or compile styleguide
    • 43. Thank you 14 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3JA t +44 (0)20 7462 2600 f +44 (0)20 7462 2601 w redhouselane.com e [email_address]

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