Join Us – Proofreading
You must be a native English speaker and have excellent grammar skills. Proofing involves correcting grammar, sentence structure, spelling mistakes, punctuation and tenses. Please do not ask to join if you’re already working with another group as a proofer. Unless our groups have similar guidelines, it will makes things frustrating for you and us.
- Able to use .doc or .rtf files. Do not send us .docx.
- Able to download the raw scans through our FTP or a file sharing site to compare against.
- Plan to stay with us for at least a whole manga. We prefer if the same proofer worked on the entire manga so they’re familiar with the story and the characters. We realize some projects take months to complete and you may need to leave before it’s finished, but please don’t join just to proof one chapter.
In a nutshell, what am I looking for?
As with translations, it’s always a good idea to read through the chapter first. You can fix the obvious errors right away, but an understanding of the characters is necessary if you want to avoid making them all sound like teenage girls. If you know a little bit of Japanese, you can try checking the raws to compare, but that’s not necessary.
Every sentence must have a punctuation mark (period, exclamation point, question mark, ellipsis, etc).
- Generally, if a sentence is missing punctuation, it’s supposed to be a period.
- Convert multiple exclamation points to a single one. (!!!! = bad. ! = good)
- Convert “!?” to “?!”
- Check ellipses (…) for the correct amount. Three dots—no more, no less.
- Use contractions. It’s dialogue, not a formal paper. (I am -> I’m. We will -> We’ll).
- Don’t use contractions that don’t make sense (I have a book = good. I’ve a book = bad)
- Don’t overuse “that”, “to”, “there” and other words that people usually drop when speaking.
- Use apostrophe s instead of just an apostrophe (Boss’ -> boss’s). It’s easier to read in scanlations.
- Convert alright -> all right.
- Use “okay”. If it’s being cut short, use ‘kay, not ‘k. If you’re cramming a huge sentence into a tiny bubble, you can use “OK”.
- Check for British English and convert to American. Colour -> color, realised -> realized. If you’re using English (U.S.) in Word, it will mark them as spelling errors.
- Use double quotes (British uses ‘single’, American uses “double”).
- Keep the punctuation inside the quotes; it’s another British vs. American thing. -> I went “shopping.”
- Only use the first letter for stuttering: “Wa-wait a minute!” -> “W-wait a minute!”
- If words like “buchou” are translated, stay consistent. Don’t suddenly start referring to him as “manager.”
- Stay consistent with the spelling for “come/cum.” Pick the “o” or the “u” and stick with it. If you’re working on a fluffy project, please use “come”; “cum” is too crass in this situation.
- Don’t translate sensei into teacher.
- Keep the honorifics. Mister Tanaka -> Tanaka-san.
Choose a font color for your fixes, such as dark blue, red or purple. In some cases, several people will go over the translation before it gets to the editor. This makes it easier for us.
Large changes: Place the corrected sentence under the original. Some proofers choose to place an asterisk in front or italize. The only requirement is that it’s in different color font
Small changes: punctuation, correcting the number of ellipses to three, capitalization, misspelled words, etc can all be corrected on the original line but they have to be in a different color font.
Keisuke: Just that I get worried whenever I think what would happen if I lost you…
*It’s just that I get worried whenever I think about what would happen if I lost you.
Original: What, is there some sorta laww saying i can’t name a cat Pochi?
Original after proof: What? Is there some sorta law saying I can’t name a cat Pochi?
If I do it right, the reader will never notice.
Use contractions whenever you can!
“I will see you later.” -> “I’ll see you later.”
But there are some exceptions. Do not use contractions when:
You want to emphasize the negative.
“I don’t like you.”
“I do not like you.”
The first is just a general statement; the second is a more emphatic disagreement. The speaker is more disgusted by the idea, it seems.
“Have” is actually the main verb, not just a helping verb.
“I have a book.”
“I’ve a book.”
The first is common enough; the second, you would never say. However, there’s another solution:
“I’ve got a book.”
Don’t ask me why, but Americans prefer this form the most. “I’ve got to go,” “I’ve got a date,” “He’s gotta run” …
It creates confusion: Another part that gets awkward is when you use contractions with words other than pronouns. We use apostrophe-s (‘s) all the time with pronouns for “is” and “has” and to show ownership, but when you start contracting pronouns with other words or with Japanese names, it’s very easy to confuse the reader.
Be careful when you use (‘s), since it can show ownership. If the sentence isn’t clear, then leave “is” or “has” un-contracted.
My sister’s stuffed animals (Ownership–the stuffed animals belong to my sister.)
My sister’s stuffed animals before. (My sister has stuffed animals before–has is describing an action, not ownership. This is when you’d leave has un-contracted.)
The same goes for names with these types of contractions
Homura’ll (Homura will take care of it.)
Homura’d (Homura would take care of it.)
We say “Homura’ll” often when we speak, but the reader will have trouble, so don’t use these types of contractions with names.
Add ellipses to split bubbles
Split bubbles (marked by a // or a tabbed space) that aren’t split with a comma need ellipses.
Original: Is there any way // I could apologize for my daughter’s misconduct?
Fixed: Is there any way… // …I could apologize for my daughter’s misconduct?
In some cases, you need to adjust them so they split at natural pauses.
Original: Thanks for accompanying me… // …here, but I have to deal with something.
Fixed: Thanks for accompanying me here, // but I have to deal with something.
Sometimes the translation needs adjusting, whether it’s because the character’s speech is too formal for the situation, or it doesn’t flow right (like it’s in Engrish or Yoda speak). Be selective when you’re re-wording though, you don’t want to lose the meaning or be altering words because you can. Also remember that the editor has to fit the line into a bubble, so chop what you can, but don’t be excessive.
- Engrish, confusing sentences and backwards speak (also known as Yoda speak)
- The placement and awkward use of adverbs (words ending in “-ly”)
- Cliche seme and uke sentence structure (smooth seme speak and teenage girl uke speak)
- Long sentences that could be chopped down and still keep the meaning.
- Words describing the action again.
Original: It’s the first time I’ve been made a fool of to this extent.
Proof: Nobody’s ever made such a big fool out of me.
Adverbs ending in “-ly”
Original: Quickly, get in the car!
Proof: Get in the car, now!
Placement of adverbs
Original: I’ve got to go quickly home!
Proof: I’ve got to go home quickly!
(Talking to a friend)
Original: I apologize for my actions.
Proof: I’m sorry (I did that).
*Adverbs ending in “-ly” often show up in translations because the word was in the Japanese sentence and sometimes, you just have to use them. We’re more concerned with keeping the meaning while not making the sentence stand out to the reader than we are with “bad writing”. But if “bad writing” stands out to the reader, then the adverb needs to be moved to a different part of the sentence, replaced with a different word, or in the extreme case—deleted altogether.
Formal, Informal and Accents
If you’re lucky, the translator already tried to bring something of the formal language across. Chances are, though, it doesn’t sound very natural. There are a couple of tricks you can try, if you have an idea of who is being formal and who isn’t. Informal language includes contractions and is a lot shorter; the speaker is relaxed and being casual. So you can use “hey” as a greeting, use “gotta” instead of “got to” and the whole lot.
For formal language, try replacing “must” with “should,” using “good evening” instead of “hey,” and while I wouldn’t replace contractions completely, avoid them where possible. “As well” sounds a lot more formal than “too.” Little things like that go a long way. For reference: http://website.lineone.net/~eshp/styles.htm
As a note, “masu” form doesn’t count as formal when we translate; it’s just less casual. It’s at the point where somebody is being addressed with the honorific verb-forms where a distinction is necessary.
Sometimes the characters are speaking in a different dialect: most often, Osaka-ben. The translator should make a note of this if she hasn’t already attempted to convey it. In any case, I find a southern accent fits these situations well. :)
People use set phrases/expressions in everyday life; it sounds more natural if the characters are using them too. Don’t be afraid to turn that boring “Grandpa died” into a more amusing “Grandpa kicked the bucket” if the situation allows for it. Again, you have to gauge the situation and make sure it all fits.
(Business friendship vs casual friendship)
Original: Sure. I’ve got time to spare.
Proofed: Yeah. I’ve got time to kill.
Japanese doesn’t use pronouns often. However, English does. Instead of repeating a name over and over, use a pronoun.
Shindou: I love Yuki! Yuki is the best!
Yuki: I love Shindou, too.
Shindou: I love you! You’re the best!
Yuki: I love you, too.
This sounds a lot more natural.
On the subject of pronouns: although certain grammar structures are technically the correct ones (ex: “he’s taller than she”) that’s not how we speak. Because we’re translating dialogue, we want to make it sound like dialogue. Thus, since most people would say, “he’s taller than her,” that’s what we’re going to use.
And I don’t know why, but “somebody” and “anybody” are a lot more common than “someone” and “anyone.” Since they both have the same meaning, this is really up to you; if space is limited, definitely go with “someone” and “anyone.”
Japanese Sentence Structure
Japanese sentences are built differently than English ones. Verbs are at the end of a sentence, and they have a lot of adjective clauses. They also love passives. What you need to know is that it’s perfectly all right to split one Japanese sentence up into two (or more, if necessary!) and to rearrange the order of the bubbles if it helps make the sentence more natural. In Japanese, it would look like this:
Homura: …I love.
But in English, nobody would say “You, I love.” (not in any normal situation). So you’re definitely free to reverse the order of those two bubbles to get the much more conventional:
Homura: I love…
But what if it’s supposed to be a surprise? Well, you don’t need to keep the words split up the same either. “I… // …love you” also works. :)
Adverbs are another problem. English doesn’t use them nearly as often as Japanese. If you see an adverb, check to see if it’s a) a commonly used one, and b) if it can be replaced. (i.e: “Get in the car, now!” instead of “Quickly, get in the car!”) Also pay attention to where you place the adverb. “I’m going quickly home” sounds unnatural.
As mentioned above, the Japanese also love adjective clauses. Those don’t sound nearly as natural to us though. For example, it’s standard practice in Japan to introduce yourself by your company first: “ABC no bengoshi no Smith desu” = “I’m Smith, a lawyer who is working at ABC.” Technically correct, but rarely do we add adjective clauses when talking about ourselves. “I’m Smith. I work at ABC as a lawyer.”
Finally, there are times when the best choice is to cut a clause completely. We don’t always need the exact minute details.
An example is in Border, where it was inconsequential that the fake identity Tamaki had created was supposedly hired through such and such service. It’s something that would never be mentioned in an introduction in English, and adding it would have crowded the bubble and made everything a lot more stilted.
If you come across a sentence in passive, see if you can’t change it into an active sentence. “I was harassed yesterday” is fine, but “Some guys harassed me yesterday” sounds better.
Leaving in Japanese Words
While some people might think it’s fine to leave “baka” or “kawaii,” think about it this way: what you’re reading is a translation. That means that every single word that is being read is technically in Japanese, translated for our benefit. So why would your translation be incomplete?
But some words just can’t be translated. That’s why we leave honorifics at the end of names (“chan,” “kun,” “san,” etc.) and why some phrases are left in Japanese – itadakimasu, gochisousama. But whenever possible, try to get the English equivalent.
That being said, translations work both ways. If the manga takes place in New York, there’s no way these characters would actually use honorifics, since they’re speaking in English. In this case, yes, you have to put Mr. instead of “san,” and just drop any instances of “chan” or “kun.” There’s no such thing as “sempai” in English, so nobody in America would use it in everyday language, right? (… Unless you’re at a con, but that’s a different story.)
Helping with SFX:
In the scanlation, SFX need to be sounds instead explanations (quick movement = bad. Whoosh = good). The translators don’t always know what the word sounds like in English so we need to help them out.
English proofers: If you see an sfx and you have a better noise for it, feel free to make a note, even if you think it’s dumb. Every little bit helps.
Japanese proofers: This is part of your job, so don’t leave them in romaji and if you have an idea of the English equivalent, please put it down. *puppy eyes*
Examples of what it usually looks like by the time it reaches the editor:
SFX: kan kan kan (footsteps) clack clack clack
Translator added: kan kan kan
Japanese proofer added: (footsteps) (left blank because they don’t know the English sound)
English proofer added: clack clack clack
SFX: piiiiii (phone) riiiing
Translator added: piiiiii
Japanese proofer added: (phone) (left blank because they don’t know the English sound)
English Proofer added: riiing
Grunts, moans and noises
Translators write them differently so you need to be able to correct them.
Good: Ah, Ahh, Hn, Hnn, Ha, Haa, Hah, Hmph, Fuu, Ngh, Gya (short yell), Ugh, Uhn, Uwah
Yelling only: Ahhhh, Gyaaa, Kyaaa
Never use: Aaa, Aa, Nn, Ku, Hhn, Unn
Eh? & Ehh?: This needs to be translated as “What?” or “Huh?”, unless kawaii or moe describes the person saying it–the uber cute uke is the only one allowed to use this.
If a character is yelling, repeat the last letter but don’t go overboard.
Ah (quick, sudden surprised yell)
Ahh (longer surprised yell or moan)
Hn (short acknowledgment)
Hnn (long moan)
Ha (short panting)
Haa (long panting, sighing)
Hah (laughter or “Ah hah! I was right!”)
Hmph (disgruntled noise)
Fu fu fu / fuu (quiet seme laugh / sighing)
Ngh (grunt noise)
Gya (sudden yelp)
Uhn (half moan, half grunt)
Uwah (sudden yelp/yell)
Ahhh! (uke yell)
Gyaaa! (long yell)
Good Romaji SFX
The meaning of some sound effects are common knowledge in the scanlation world but it’s the editor’s choice to leave them in Japanese, so even if they’re obvious, please translate them anyway
doki doki = heartbeat / thadump
kacha = door opening / click
chuu = a cute kiss noise / kiss
Romaji SFX to English:
Any SFX left in romaji might be found here.
Okay, you’ve gotten through it! Please, read it one more time! Sometimes you miss mistakes while you’re going through it, so reading through it again can catch the occasional typo. Also check to make sure that everything makes sense in context. If you’re not sure if a sentence fits, ask around. :)
Grammar and Usage for the Non-Expert.
Fair warning, it’s as addictive as Wikipedia. You’ll waste an entire afternoon before you realize it.
The English Studies Home Page
More for a beginner, it has a nice article on formal vs. informal language as well as on word order.
A great reference site for details on grammar.
Guide to Punctuation
Exactly what it sounds like. This site is amazing; just remember that it’s going by British punctuation rules.
Belongs to the University of Ottawa’s writing center, this is a very extensive course on the different grammar points. Good for looking up nitpicky things like when to use a subjunctive and when not.