Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Proofreading aloud

After the LDS Church holds its 2-day general conference each April and October, the talks have to be prepared for printing in the next month's Ensign magazine. It's a complicated process and has to be done in less than two weeks. So a group of volunteer proofreaders comes in to help.

Nine years ago I happened to hear about this arrangement, and after taking a proofreading test, I joined the team. It's the best volunteer job I can imagine!

Some of the details have changed over the years, but one thing that we still do is proofread the talks orally as well as silently. Proofreading aloud is an interesting process. It takes two proofreaders. One reads the talk out loud from the original copy while the other one follows along in the copy we're checking. Everything must be checked, including punctuation, italics, paragraphing, endnotes, etc. To speed up the process, we use verbal abbreviations to show the things that normally wouldn't be read aloud. It sounds very funny but is surprisingly quick and accurate. Here's an example from a random book off my shelf.

Miss Farish bent short-sightedly over the accompanying card. "Mr. Simon Rosedale. What, that horrid man? Oh, yes---I remember he's a friend of Jack's, and I suppose cousin Grace had to ask him here today."

Here's what it would sound like aloud, with the proofreading additions in capitals:

TWO CAP Miss Farish bent short HYPH sightedly over the accompanying card POINT ITAL QUOTE CAP M r POINT TWO CAP Simon Rosedale POINT END ITAL What COM that horrid man QUEST Oh COM yes EM DASH I remember he POS s a friend of CAP Jack POS s COM and I suppose cousin CAP Grace had to ask him here today POINT CLOSE QUOTE

Endnotes and references get really interesting, especially when there are dozens of them in a row. But again, for accuracy and speed, it's hard to beat this way of proofreading. And if I ever have to show off a strange talent at a party, I'm ready!

In case you want to practice this useful skill yourself, here are all the abbreviations I can think of right now.

. point or dot
, com
; sem
: col
? quest or query
! exclam or bang
" " quote or open quote or close quote
' ' open single, close single
' pos
- hyph
-- en dash or en
--- em dash or em
( ) paren or open paren or close paren
[ ] brack or open brack or close brack

Capitalized word - cap (two cap or three cap for several capitalized words in a row)
Word all in capitals - all caps
Italics - ital, end ital
Bold - bold, end bold
Superscript - super
Subscript - sub
Numeral (instead of spelling out the word for the number) - num
New paragraph - graph
New line - line

Okay, I can't resist ending with this: CAP that POS s all COM folks BANG

1 comment:

Brandi said...

ROFL. You crack me up! I love it. hehe