Proof reading, can it be done by computer?

  robgf 01:23 14 Sep 2008

I'm currently reading a novel called Hellgate, which is quite good, in a trashy sort of way. But what is unusual about the book, is the number of errors, I've never read a book with so many.

Interestingly the errors aren't misspelled, instead similar looking words are substituted. For example instead of "boot", it might say "hoot".

I wondered if OCR software was being used to proof read the book automatically, with the computer wrongly interpreting a scanned word.
Or it could be a highly incompetent human, lol.

  crosstrainer 01:53 14 Sep 2008

Sounds very likely, they are supposed to be proofread after OCR has done it's job, but having said that any OCR software used would have been used at the very early stages of pre- production.

Perhaps a sign of the general decline in standards these days?

  wiz-king 07:42 14 Sep 2008

I used to get a local paper but got so annoyed with the spelling and grammar errors that one week I marked them all (I hope) with highlighter pens and sent it back with a covering letter. It did not improve so I cancelled my subscription.

  Forum Editor 10:43 14 Sep 2008

in newspapers and magazines, and I sometimes wonder how the writers ever got to call themselves journalists in the first place.

I do a bit of proof reading for a publishing company, and it's hard work - I would hate to do it full-time. Lazy proofing is done by software, but it's very unreliable. As fourm member says, really accurate proof reading can only be done by human being.

  Jim Thing 11:35 14 Sep 2008

Automated proofreading (e.g. spellcheckers and the like) can be the source of much innocent amusement. Years ago one of my typists typed and spellchecked a marine technical report on the corrosion-resisting properties of a particular type of white paint. Unfortunately she was having an off day and each time she had meant to type 'white' she had hit the 's' key immediately below the 'w'.

Her spillchucker passed it without comment. The client was not amused.

  spuds 11:52 14 Sep 2008

I don't know if can be classed as an excuse, but I tend to find quite a lot of books are now printed and possibly 'proofed' in the Far East, mainly China.

Coming nearer to home,the daily local newspaper seems to suffer an increasing amount of inconsistencies and poor quality control. Even the scope of the journalists seems to limit themselves in reporting a wheelie bin fire as a serious news item.

  Quickbeam 11:57 14 Sep 2008

I get caught out at times by the American spell checker on this forum with words I haven't used since I was at skool.

  interzone55 12:57 14 Sep 2008

Many publishers send books out to home workers for proof reading before publication.

My wife did a bit of this during a 2 year period when she couldn't work. As she is an English graduate they jumped at the chance of sending her boos to read. Over the course of the 2 years she read about 40 books and some of the errors would have resulted in a sharp rap across the knuckles with a ruler when I was at school - simple things like the wrong use of there, their and they're.

When I was at college we worked with our Computer Studies and Maths tutors on a program to write Mills & Boon type novels. When we tested them on unsuspecting pensioners we found that a couple of our automated books had better grammar than the published novels, although our plots were slightly more believable so the auto-generated books were soon spotted...

  interzone55 12:58 14 Sep 2008

..perhaps I should have sent my post for proof reading.

For "boos" read "books"

  WhiteTruckMan 13:05 14 Sep 2008

but its translations of instruction from a different language that sometimes crack me up. I suspect many of those are done by software.


  Jim Thing 15:17 14 Sep 2008

I reckon the classic example of automatic translation is the familiar saying "out of sight, out of mind," translated by a software program as "invisible, insane."

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