Is Whitesmoke any good?
Thread poster: gma0574
French to English
Nov 10, 2016

I am looking for a reliable proofreading software. Somebody suggested WhiteSmoke but I do not know how reliable it is. How does it work? Can it really replace the human proofreader?

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Marco Ramón  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:42
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
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Limited use and capabilitites Nov 10, 2016

I used to use it as a second spellchecker-grammar checker. That is after using Word spellchecker or whatever spellchecker comes with the CAT I might be using at the time. The results of WS are not spectacular. They are just a little help to identify typos fast (after you have uploaded one page at the time online). I does not replace the need to make decisions on grammar and style.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:42
Member (2007)
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How could it replace a human proofreader? Nov 10, 2016

gma0574 wrote:
I am looking for a reliable proofreading software. Somebody suggested WhiteSmoke but I do not know how reliable it is. How does it work? Can it really replace the human proofreader?

I must say I've been singularly unimpressed with what I've been able to find out easily from Google searches. Many reviewers talk of bugs, and more than a few can't get it to work at all, nor can they get any support. Many of those who swear by it are non-native speakers of English, so maybe some of the grammar checks that really aren't too useful for native-level writers would please them. There's very little said by the developers about what it actually does and doesn't do. It's all very general. But it doesn't seem to me to do a lot more than Word, really. And you're certainly expecting far too much from a mere program if you think it will replace a human proofreader.

If you really want help producing polished professional texts, and they're over a few pages long, then you might want to consider using PerfectIt. It isn't a spell-checker, so you'd still need to use the normal Word one. Then you run the text through PerfectIt to catch all the inconsistencies. But you don't just leave it to the program to decide what's right and what isn't. You, after all, are the PRO! What it will do is check your work against a style guide - one of many pre-loaded ones or your own client-tailored one. So you can choose which you want out of 'standardise' and 'standardize'; whether you want a space before the percent sign; whether particular compound words should be one word, hyphenated or two separate words; whether titles are capitalised or not; how you want to deal with punctuation within lists; etc., etc. It goes through the text in a separate run - not bothering you when you're typing - and allows you to do either block modifications or select individual instances for change. It will also tell you if you use an abbreviation before defining it and such-like. The free version is fine for shorter texts, but for books etc you need the PRO version.

But the bottom line is that I most often use it not as a translator, but as a proofreader/editor! In other words, it's needed on top of my own skills and experience, not instead of them. No way does it catch everything that my clients expect me to catch. For example, only I can discover the common trick of typing 'form' in place of 'from'. But on the other hand, no way could I catch every tiny inconsistency in 100 pages. It would cost my client a fortune and probably cost me my sanity. Together we make a formidable team.

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