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Author Topic: Proofreading Guide by georgi  (Read 2887 times)
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« on: January 15, 2015, 04:51:25 PM »

The purpose of this guide is to provide some basic information on proofreading techniques. It is meant to help proofreaders with their task and also to serve as a review. The guide mostly references The Little, Brown Compact Handbook (Third Canadian Edition), but I might improve it with time (a.k.a. never). Oh, and don't worry, I mostly wrote this for my own reference.

The Challenge

Proofreading a manga differs somewhat significantly from proofreading  an essay or an article. Many proofreading guides are meant to help writers improve their own work, but in the proofreader's case, the work being analyzed was written by somebody else. This means that the proofreader has the responsibility to be extra vigilant and make sure to properly understand the purpose and intended meaning behind every line written by the translator.
Some guides speak of proofreading as a two step process: Revising and Editing. Revising does not involve checking for spelling, grammar or punctuation. Its main focus is instead on making sure the ideas of the work flow clearly. Since Manga scripts are written by somebody else, you can't really alter their content in a significant way. Thus, revising is of little relevance when it comes to proofreding manga. The rest of this guide will focus on Editing.

What to watch out for:


This section is about avoiding confusing wordings and making sure your message is conveyed. This involves:

Exact Words. Whenever possible, you should use words that "fit your meaning exactly and convey your attitude precisely."  This can go both ways! It is important to understand what the translator intended to say before you make any quick assumptions; some word may sound a bit odd to you, but might have been exactly what the translator wanted to say/use. Any good craftsperson knows how to use the right tools to do his job, and in a proofreader's job, some of the best tools are a Dictionary and a Thesaurus - use them! You should also pay close attention to words that sound/look similar but have different meanings.

Parallelism. Elements of similar meaning inside sentences also need to have similar grammatical form. You can most commonly spot issues with parallelism in longer and more complicated sentences. Whenever you see words such as "and", "but", "or", "nor", "yet", "both...and" and "not...but", you should be on your toes. Some examples:

Bad: "Success was difficult even for efficient companies because of the shift away from all manufacturing in Canada and the fact that steel production was shifting toward emerging nations."
Good: "Success was difficult even for efficient companies because of the shift away from all manufacturing in Canada and toward steel production in emerging nations."

Bad: "Huck Finn learns not only that human beings have an enormous capacity for folly but also enormous dignity."
Good: "Huck Finn learns that human beings have  not only an enormous capacity for folly but also enormous dignity."

You should also include any prepositions and words required by grammar or idioms. Example:

Bad: "Given training, workers can acquire the skills and interest in other jobs."
Good: "Given training, workers can acquire the skills for and interest in other jobs."

Clear Modifiers. You need to place modifiers appropriately, or else you breed confusion.

Confusing: "He served steak to the men on paper plates." (makes it sound almost as if the men are on paper plates)
Clear: "He served the men steak on paper plates."

Limiting modifiers such as "almost", "even", "exactly", "hardly", "just", "merely", "nearly", "only", "scarcely" and "simply" should be placed immediately before the word they are modifying.

Unclear: "The archaeologist only found the skull on her last dig."
Clear: "The archaeologist found only the skull on her last dig."
Clear: "The archaeologist found the skull only on her last dig."

Adverbs can generally be moved around freely, but if they are too long it's often better to place them at the beginning of a sentence. You shouldn't place adverbs between a verb and its object. Example:

Bad: "The war had damaged badly many of Kuwait's oil fields."
Good: "The war had badly damaged many of Kuwait's oil fields."

You should also avoid splitting an infinitive with an adverb (i.e. use "not to rise" instead of "to not rise")

Clear Reference of Pronouns. The idea is simple: a pronoun should have the same person, number and gender as what it refers to (known as an antecedent) . You should try to avoid confusing wording and strive for all of your pronouns to have clear antecedents.  If you are referring to multiple antecedents joined by "and", you should generally use a plural pronoun. If they are instead joined by "or" or "nor", the pronoun should agree with the nearest antecedent. However, if one of the antecedents is plural, you should put it last, or else it sounds awkward. Example:

Awkward: "Neither the tenants nor the owner has yet made her case."
Better: "Nether the owner nor the tenants have yet made their case."

If the antecedent is either "everyone" or "person", you should use a singular pronoun to refer to them. Other indefinite pronouns such as "all", "any", "more", "most" and "some" can be either plural or singular, depending on what they refer to. These can sometimes be tricky to work with. Example:

Good: "Everyone on the women's team now has her own locker."
Bad: "Everyone on the women's team now has their own locker."

This is a very common mistake, and we also sometimes use "their" because we want to avoid the issue of gender (for example, we don't know what the gender is, and using "his" would be sexist). To help solve this problem, we can use something like the following:

Good: "All athletes on the team now have their own lockers."
Good: "Everyone on the team is now entitled to a locker."
Good: "Everyone on the team now has his or her own locker." <- wordy and awkward if overused, so avoid it.

Collective nouns such as team can be either plural or singular depending on meaning (thank you, Beach Stars)

Complete Sentences. This is actually kind of annoying in manga, as fragments are prevalent and you can't always do anything about it. Fragments either lack a verb, lack a subject or are a subordinate clause detached from a complete sentence.

Sentences Separated Correctly. You should also avoid comma splices and fused sentences. "An English sentence may not include more than one main clause, unless the clauses are separated by a comma and a coordinating conjunction or by a semicolon." I personally find it a good idea to split up long sentences whenever you can, as it usually makes the manga easier to read.


This section is about improving the effectiveness of the writing and avoiding wordiness. This involves:

Emphasis on Main Ideas. You should write the sentences in a way that makes it easy to understand their main idea. Passive voice should generally be avoided, opting instead for active verbs. Parts at the beginning or the end of a sentence are more emphasized, so use this to your advantage.

Appropriate Words. Manga tends to contain a lot of slang and colloquial language. You don't have to change it, as long as you keep in mind the leechers (i.e. will they understand what is being said). You should avoid indirect writing and just go straight to the point (unless, of course, you can't help it since that's how the original author wrote it). Sexist language is perhaps a lesser issue with manga, but you should nonetheless avoid the concept of gender unless the situation requires it, and avoid using words containing "man" or male pronouns to refer to general terms.

Concise Sentences. I consider this particularly important for manga. First off, there usually isn't that much space in a bubble, so you shouldn't make the typesetter's job any harder than it already is. Concise sentences also make the manga easier to read, and you should be aware that not all our readers have English as their first language (including myself, actually).

"Concise writing makes every word count. Conciseness is not the same as mere brevity: detail and originality should not be cut along with needless words." That is to say, don't make the translator feel worthless by removing words they may have spent a lot of time coming up with. Conciseness is important, but you should, as always, try to understand what the translator wanted to accomplish and only remove words that serve no purpose and reword sentences that are wordier than needed.

You should remove unneeded repetition. Example:

Bad: "Many unskilled workers without training in a particular job are unemployed."
Good: "Many unskilled workers are unemployed."

You should also try to make sentences shorter and avoid unnecessary complexity whenever possible.


This section is about avoiding spelling and grammar mistakes. This involves:

Spelling. What a spellchecker does. However, it won't help you with words that are spelled correctly, sound the same, but are used incorrectly (their, they're, there). There are also differences between American and British spelling, which quite frankly don't bother me. That's probably because I use Canadian English, and we sort of accept both forms. You should really refer to a spelling guide for this section, as there are too many aspects to consider.

Verbs. Check verb tenses and proper verb spelling. I'm assuming you know your irregular verbs and the differences between the tenses. Here I will try to cover some of the more useful verb properties.

Verbs can be transitive or intransitive. Transitive verbs take a direct object while intransitive verbs do not. I suggest testing yourself at

There are a few verbs that are very similar but differ in this nature. For example, "lie" and "lay" - lie is intransitive, while lay is transitive. So you're "lying on your bed", not "laying on your bed."

You should use the present tense for actions occurring now, recurring actions and general truths. You can even use it for a future action, such as "Funding ends in less than a year."

Present perfect is used for "[an] action [that] is completed at the time of the statement" or "[an] action [that] began in the past and continues now." Past perfect is used for "[an] action [that] was completed before another past action." Future perfect is used for "[an] action [that[ begins now or in the future and will be completed by a specified time in the future."

Progressive tenses should be used for continuing actions. Take note that verbs that express unchanging states and mental states should rarely be used in progressive tenses. Example:

Bad: "She is wanting to study ethics."
Good: "She wants to study ethics."

It's interesting to note that expressions such as "I'm loving it" are also wrong. You can probably get away with those, though, since they are used fairly often.
What you should probably pay the closest attention to is verb tense consistency. I won't dwell much on this, let's just say that using present tense in one sentence and using past tense later in the same context is incorrect.

A note on Moods: There are three verb moods in English, the Indicative (most commonly used), the Imperative (when you are ordering someone or giving directions) and the Subjunctive Mood (what this paragraph will focus on). "The subjunctive mood expresses a suggestion, requirement, or desire, or it states a condition that is contrary to fact (that is, imaginary or hypothetical." For requirements, you use the verb's plain form. Example:

"Rules require that every donation be mailed."

Conditions that are imaginary or hypothetical usually begin with "if" or "unless", or they follow "wish". For present conditions, use the past tense. If the verb is "to be", use "were." Example:

"If the theatre were in better shape and had more money, its future would be assured."

For past conditions, use the past perfect form.

Note: Do not use the verbs "would" or "could" in a contrary-to-fact clause beginning with if:

Bad: "Many people would have helped if they would have known."
Good: "Many people would have helped if  they had known."

Agreement Between Subjects and Verbs. Fairly straightforward. This should be respected even when the subject and verb are separated by other words. Example:

"The requirements stated in the catalogue are [not is] unclear."

Subjects joined by "and" take plural, unless they form a single idea, as in "Avocado and bean sprouts is a California sandwich." and "Each man, woman, and child has a right to be heard." Otherwise, the rules for or, nor, everyone, etc. are similar to those for pronouns.

Pronouns. Also refer to Clear Reference of Pronouns.

Pronouns have a case. The case relates to the function of the pronoun inside the sentence. There are three cases, "subjective", "objective" and "possessive". The subjective case is used for subjects and subject complements and includes the pronouns "I", "you", "he", "she", "it", "we", "you", "they", "who" and "whoever". The objective case is used for objects or prepositions and includes the pronouns "me", "you", "him", "her", "it", "us", "you", "them", "whom" and "whomever". The possessive case indicates ownership or source and includes the pronouns "my/mine", "your/yours", "his", "her/hers", "its", "our/ours", "your/yours", "their/theirs" and "whose"

Although most people have no problems determining the appropriate case to use, the same can not always be said about compound objects. You should use the same pronoun as you would have used if the sentence was separate, that is, "The prize went to him and me" and "He and I won the prize."

Subject complements should use the subjective case. Example:

"It was they whom the mayor appointed" rather than "It was them whom the mayor appointed", even though you would normally use "The mayor appointed them." This also means that "I am I" is perfectly correct and "I am me" is wrong. Sorry, mrpibb.

Fragments. This was already covered under Complete Sentences.

Commas. I am one of these persons who tend to overuse commas. Yet I also don't like serial commas, go figure.

Here's how the rules go when it comes to coordinating conjunctions (such as "and" or "but"): when the conjunction links words or phrases, do not use a comma, as in "Dugain plays and sings Irish and English folk songs." You should put a comma when the coordinating conjunction is joining two main clauses. You can, however, omit it if the two clauses are very short.

You should use a comma to separate modifiers or introductory statements from the rest of the clause (words like "First of all" or in sentences such as "Studying identical twins, geneticists learn about inheritance."). You should also use commas to separate non-essential elements (elements that could be taken off and the sentence would still make sense), as in "The company, which is located in Newfoundland, has an excellent reputation." You should also use commas to separate items in a series, as in "She worked as a cook, a babysitter, and a crossing guard." The last comma is not wrong, but I dislike it so I usually take it off. There are also a whole lot of punctuation rules when it comes to quotations, but I won't go into them, especially since punctuation in manga is generally not very visible anyway.

Apostrophes. To indicate possession, for singular words, you add -'s at the end. This is also true for singular words ending in -s, such as "James" or "physics", but you can omit the -s and just add the apostrophe. For plural words ending in -s, you should only have the apostrophe. For plural words that don't end in -s, you should use -'s (children's, media's), and in compound words you should only add it to the last word (somebody else's). There are some more complex rules about this, you should really refer to an actual reference for those.
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