Friday, January 22, 2010


Last night, I polished off the grad exams. They were fine. Lacked a bit of depth, but fine. Also had a breakthrough on the "Which project?" dilemma, which I'll post about tomorrow.

Then, I got to work on the page proofs. Did the intro. Here's the "system" I worked out:

First, find the spots in my computer file where I did copy edits, and make sure they got incorporated.

Second, choose a short section (about 5 pp. at a time) and read through it out loud, stopping whenever I see a problem. Write notes in pencil in the right margin. Control urge to fix clunky prose (too late for that!), limiting myself to correcting obvious grammatical errors, and noting places to do one last check on dates.

Third, while doing the read-through, be alert for potential index entries. Note these in the left margin as they occur, so I have a basis for the real index.**

This method got me through 15 pp. of text and three of endnotes (dear gods, but that's a snore!) in about two hours. I think. If I do that twice a day from here on out, I should be able to finish*** by next Friday.

**So far, I've only got about 8 entries for 14 pages. That doesn't seem like a lot, but then again, this is the introduction, so there's probably not a lot that needs to be indexed. Right? Right? Somebody please reassure me here!

***I've already arranged with the editor that I'll be e-mailing the index from my trip. No way is that getting done before I go, not with taxes and a book review to do.


squadratomagico said...

"Control the urge to fix clunky prose..." I hear you! I am an inveterate tinkerer with language and had the worst problem with this!

And: it seems reasonable to me that you don't have many points per page to index from the Introduction. I didn't do my own indexing, so I have no personal stories to share, but that sounds entirely reasonable. 'kay?

medieval woman said...

You rock - that's a great system! And nobody really indexes the intro...

Bavardess said...

This may be a completely whack suggestion, but would running your text through the wordle generator ( help with making an index? It uses an algorithm that picks up which words get used and how often, and in relation to what other words, and then displays them as a graphic. I've played with it for fun, but also thought it might be useful for doing outlines, indexes etc.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thanks, all (and thanks, Squadrato, for the reassurance)! Bavardess, that sounds like it should work, but the problem is that I'm mostly indexing concepts, not words. So I'm afraid it needs to be done the old-fashioned way.

Luckily, I write short.

Susan said...

reading proofs is mind-numbing because you really need to pay attention NOT to prose but to picky stuff -- commas instead of periods, spelling, etc.
It wasn't until I was proofing my index that I realized I'd misspelled some key names.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Amen, Susan. A couple of questions I was asking myself yesterday:

"Shouldn't that be a comma rather than a semicolon?"

"Does that (obscure) man's name have one t on the end or two? And have I done this consistently?"

"This article title has both 'de' and 'del' in it, both can't be right... better grab the article and check. And check to see if I've screwed it up in the bib as well."

Doubled words, wrong prepositions, all that. I've got a couple of prose corrections in there that I'm probably going to have to live without in the end.