December 2021 Virtual General Meeting: Proofread Like a Pro and Ship It Express
GM presented by Eve Bodeux and Emily Safrin
Article by Christina Davis
Yes, we’re still meeting virtually! Although Zoom isn’t always ideal, it does allow for attendees and presenters to come together regardless of geographical location. In our last GM of the year, we were graced with two wonderful speakers: Emily Safrin and Eve Lindemuth Bodeux.
Emily Safrin, owner of Saffron Translations in Portland OR, is an ATA-certified Spanish-to-English translator who specializes in the medical and culinary fields. She holds an MA from the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, Spain. In addition to translating, she also offers bilingual copy-editing services.
Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is an ATA-certified French-to-English translator based in Colorado. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Virginia and the Université de Lorraine. Eve has a broad range of experience from her 25 years in the language industry, from co-hosting the podcast Speaking of Translation to authoring the book Maintaining Your Second Language. She currently serves on the ATA’s Board of Directors.
Together, Emily and Eve presented the many useful tips and strategies you’ll find below for efficient proofreading using the best of both human and machine, making it possible to deliver projects quickly while increasing quality.
What exactly is proofreading?
How proofreading is defined varies from person to person and industry to industry. In the editing world, proofreading implies no change to content. The sole purpose is to make any necessary corrections to mechanics—such as spelling, diacritical marks, or capitalization—before going to print. In the translation world, however, proofreading encompasses a much broader scope of revisions. The presenters define it as “the task of reviewing a translation, whether alone or in comparison with the source text, to ensure accuracy, completeness, style consistency, and so on.” Because proofreading is a slippery term, it’s important to be clear on what the process will cover, whether you’re proofreading your own work or (especially!) someone else’s work.
Let’s get to the tips!
How many times have you found mistakes on a hard copy that you missed when you viewed the document on a screen? Simply changing how you look at a text by altering the font, the device you read it on, or the format can help you spot mistakes you might otherwise miss. Using the Immersive Reader feature in Word is an easy way to alter a document temporarily. Click on View, then select Immersive Reader. This allows you to alter the color, font, and layout while still retaining the ability to make edits. To exit, simply click on Close Immersive Reader, and you’ll be brought back to your original document.
A style sheet is especially helpful when working on a long document or collaborating with colleagues on a project. It’s designed to ensure consistency (e.g., style, spelling, punctuation) by laying out the rules that are going to be followed. At a minimum, a style sheet includes references (style guide, dictionary), a spelling glossary, number rules, and punctuation choices. It is different from a termbase in that it can be client- or project-specific.
Scouring a document for every type of error at once can be overwhelming and unproductive. This is where checklists come in. Instead of looking for grammar, number, and spelling errors in one pass, consider coming up with a detailed list of problem areas customized to your language pair. Your checklist can be on paper, or you can use a program like OneNote, the Microsoft note-taking app.
Your ears can catch mistakes your eyes miss when you listen to text using text-to-speech tools. Try the Read Aloud and Speak features—they’re included in MS Word and support over 30 languages. There are other tool options as well, such as TextAloud. Do watch out for homophones (such as their, they’re, there).
PerfectIt is a paid MS Word add-on that speeds up proofing by automating certain tasks, such as deleting empty spaces at the end of a paragraph. You can create your own style sheets or use the ones that are built in. There are versions for both PC and Mac, but there are significant differences between the two.
Don’t know what a macro is? Neither did I. Macros are used to automate repetitive and common changes, like finding words in a text that have been duplicated and need to be deleted. You can create your own macros or use someone else’s. (Beware of malicious code if you’re not using your own!) Macros for Editors by Paul Beverly is a free e-book and a great resource to get you started. Downloadable macros are even included.
Thank you again to Eve and Emily for such a practical presentation. I implemented some of these strategies in the writing of this article and I cannot recommend them enough.
Christina Davis is an ATA-certified Spanish-to-English translator. She received her MA in Spanish Literature from San Francisco State University and holds a Certificate in Translation from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently a TED translator and especially enjoys working on talks related to the medical field, animal behavior and cognition, and zoonotic diseases