Monday, December 05, 2016

crispity, crunchity crunch time

I was in the office until about 12:30AM tonight. The boss had called to tell me to go home early and not run myself ragged, but being alone in an office is a delight to us introverts, so there was no real emotional stress coming from putting in quiet man-hours on a Sunday. The stress, such as it was, came more from the fact that I had been tasked with proofreading two huge textbook manuscripts in a row.

The first manuscript, for our "2A" book (whose title I probably can't/shouldn't mention here; suffice it to say there will, like the Nazgûl, be nine textbooks in total: 1A, 1B, 1C, and on up through 3C), took about four hours per chapter—ten chapters total—to proofread. It was rife with errors in all shapes and sizes—some ours, most not. Once initial proofing was done and the manuscript sent back to the designer, successive proofreadings went a whole lot faster, if somewhat asymptotically: I'd find 500 errors; the designer would correct maybe 480 of them and introduce new errors; he'd send back the much-improved-yet-still-imperfect manuscript; I'd proof that one even faster and send it back; the designer would then implement my new corrections (many of which were simply restatements of old corrections) and return a new draft copy; I'd look that one over, make what I hoped would be final corrections, then wait for the designer to send back his final draft, often labeled "final" (choe jong, 최종) on the PDF file. Historically, the final draft has often proved to be truly final, Cthulhu be praised.

The second manuscript, for our level 3A textbook, is what I've been working on over the past week. There aren't quite as many errors as in the 2A book, so the proofing is going faster, but not by much. I told my boss, given my irritation at the consistency of many of the errors, that I need to send the designer a style sheet. Three errors in particular, if the designer were made aware of them, would save me loads of time and trouble if they never appeared:

1. DO NOT put a space before a colon. That's French punctuation. (This error occurs perhaps 12-20 times per chapter.)

2. For all quotation marks and apostrophes, use curly quotes, not straight quotes, and never mix up the two styles of quotes in the same paragraph. (I can't begin to say how many times this error has appeared. It's as if the designer isn't even watching.)

3. For the love of Jesus, NEVER take an em dash and shrink it into a hyphen. However I wrote it in the original MS Word raw file, that's how it should appear on the finalized page of the textbook. Capisce?! (This error was ubiquitous throughout Book 2A, but is almost nonexistent in 3A. Can't say why, but I won't complain.)

In publishing, the deadline is king, and for Book 3A, everything needs to be done by Tuesday morning. I'm probably going to stay very late again, Monday evening, to get everything done. At this point—given that I also worked six hours this past Saturday—I've racked up almost 70 comp hours, which will likely translate into several three-day weekends in a row in both December and January. Maybe I'll go traveling. We'll see. I usually end up doing nothing much when I'm on vacation; lounging is, after all, one of my favorite leisure activities.


Charles said...

A space before a colon is standard Korean punctuation as well, which is probably why this is so hard to quash.

I can sympathize with the Xeno's Paradox of error correcting, though. That's all I'll say in public.

Kevin Kim said...

Standard Korean punctuation, eh? That would explain much.

Charles said...

Indeed. The space before the colon is responsible for most of Korea's suffering over the course of the past century.