Guest Writer Michelle Writes of Proofreading

I know, I know. I haven't Driveled in *ages.* It's not just procrastination this time; I have an excuse . . . I can't see. My eyesight took a massive dive recently and focusing on the computer is not easy. I went to the eye doctor this week and have a new set of glasses on the way, but in the meantime the doctor suggested - if I could stand it - wearing a drug store pair of reading glasses also. It works! I look like the ultimate geek, though; hunched over the computer wearing *two* sets of glasses.

But hey, I can see again.

And since I can see, I have returned to the Distributed Proofreaders site and am proofing my little heart out. It's fun! I'm assisting Project Gutenberg, a place dedicated to preserving old books and providing free eBooks to the public. Visit them atGutenberg.org.

As part of this project, Distributed Proofreaders (DP) is a volunteer organization which is responsible for getting those eBooks on the Project Gutenberg site. (Check out DP at http://www.pgdp.net/c/.)
Drivel: Distributed Proofreaders

It's a lengthy process that requires many, many volunteers. I'm just beginning so can only proofread at the first level or "smooth read" which is downloading an almost finished book and reading it, just like reading a regular book, to notice any problem that disrupts the flow or sense of the book. Anyone who can read can be a Smooth Reader, and the site has books in many languages.

I'm having a blast doing this work, and I bought a Kindle to allow me to take my Smooth Reading (SR) books with me wherever I go. Currently I'm reading "Goblin Tales of Lancashire."
For the techies out there, here's the basic flow:

* Begin - A book, out of copyright or with author permission, is chosen, rights are purchased, and pages are scanned into the DP system. Using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) most of the words scan correctly into text, but not all. That's where the proofing starts.

* P1 - The first round of proofing (where I am!) matches the scanned text with the original page image, correcting "scannos" and adding stuff for future volunteers, like an extra space between paragraphs. While I can do standard proofreading pretty well, this requires some learning as there are guidelines around things that normally I wouldn't change, like sometimes adding a second dash to a dash already in the text. Examples: If the word is hyphenated, it's one dash. If it's a dash in the text, it's a double dash. If it's a dash at the end of a page, it needs an asterisk (*) to show that it's fine that way. Learning these guidelines is taking me a bit. You only proof one page at a time, and cannot see the pages which come before or after the page you're proofing.

* P2 - The second round of proofing double-checks the first proofer's work. To proof here requires that you have proofed 300 pages in P1 first. After your P1 pages have gone through P2, you can see how well you did by viewing the differences between what you submitted and what the P2 person submitted. Currently I'm at 29% with 38 of my 130 pages having a difference. (Sometimes the difference isn't bad; you can ask questions about something you're not sure about within the text and the next proofer will remove your note; thus giving that page a difference.)

* P3 - Yep, a third round of proofing. Since I'm not yet in P2, I don't know what the requirements are here.

* F1 - The first round of formatting. This also requires 300 proofing pages before I am eligible to try it. These folks handle the special fonts - bold, italic, underlined - which the P rounds ignore. I'm sure there are other things they do, but it's still a mystery to me so far.

* F2 - The second round of formatting. One of these F rounds may handle illustrations.

* PP - Post Processing. These folks put all the proofing, formatting, and illustrations back together into the final text. If the F rounds don't handle illustrations, that work is done here, too.

* PPV - Post Processing Verification. Every round needs a second set of eyes!

* SR - Smooth Reading, which is optional. Not every book goes through this.

Every step of the way, you can see your stats, see the day's stats, ask to be notified when your book is in the next round or posted to Project Gutenberg, and feel like an important part of something huge. The interaction and feedback I've had with other volunteers has been exceptionally encouraging and very helpful.

If you can read, and obviously you can, I encourage you to visit the PG and DP sites. You might find a new hobby.

The Desk Drawer writer's exercise list

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