From: The Complete Survival Guide to POINT (professional orbit of intelligent and natural text processing)


Point 3: Technical proofreading, where one needs to check different systems throughout the manuscript, is very much like driving your car on the highway. One continuously has to be on the look-out for possible instances where accidents may happen. I always play a game with myself: What can go wrong? When driving, I envisage all the worst case scenarios, keeping myself alert for any unforeseen incidents. If I get hold up behind a slower vehicle and the contours of the road make it difficult to overtake, say for instance when I’m nearing a blind rise, I imagine that I’m indeed overtaking, and then wait to check the spoils if I did. When a vehicle approaches after I pass the rise (that I obviously could not see), I award myself a life. In this sense one is elevated to a beta-level of alertness, with an encompassing view of one’s surroundings.

One needs the same attitude and focus on a beta-level when proofreading stylistic systems within text. The best way to master technical proofreading is to consider one system at a time. Follow that single action through the document/manuscript as a whole. Then move on to the next system. But first, familiarise yourself with your textual surroundings, which you can divide into two aspects:

  • text  – copy before you, spelling and grammatical issues – tenses and concord)
  • texture – lay-out and setting, e.g. indents, subheadings, bullets, paragraphs, spaces between headings and font size, as well as types (italic, bold, or not).

When you have covered all the possible textual mishaps of system in hand, then move on to the next system, and so on … Carry on until all the “what ifs” that you could foresee in the text and texture have been covered.

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