Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Automated Proof Reading

I've been spending the last few months writing papers, which requires lots and lots of proof reading. Yesterday Tom shared one trick he'd used to help with his thesis. He took his thesis, ran detex over it, then used a text-to-speech program to read it back to him. This trick ensures you pick up all the subtle things like repeated words, and forces you to listen to every word, not skim reading bits. I thought this was a great idea, so implemented something similar in my paper preparation tool (release forthcoming), so typing paper talk reads the paper back to you, converting the LaTeX in a sensible way, to make it as readable as possible.

Here is result of running paper talk on the introduction section of my Catch paper:

The audio is a little clearer before being compressed for upload, but still has a very clunky feel. It is surprisingly useful - I made about 12 minor changes as a result. It has some oddities, for example ML becomes millilitre, and some pause issues with brackets, which the preprocessor sorts out. The entire paper takes 49 minutes to read, but I think I will be doing this will all papers from now on.


Justin said...


Any word on when this tool you mention might be released? Sounds way cool!

Neil Mitchell said...

Justin: There are versions available on Hackage, but unfortunately they require versions of Yhc from approximately a year ago. I do want to revamp the code at some point, and put out a new and much more robust release.

Unknown said...

You could also try Proofread Bot. It does lots of checks, like grammar, style, plagiarism and statistics.