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SMY Publishing Company Case Study*

The SMY publishing company contacted me to copyedit a book that contained both English and Farsi texts. The SMY’s goal was to have only the Farsi scripts reviewed, corrected and explained. However, a challenging situation presented itself: I received a Microsoft Word document that was corrupted in a way that the Farsi texts were transposed to read from left to right instead of right to left. One way to rectify the problem was to go through the whole manuscript (about 360 pages), separate the affected paragraphs, correct them and finally do the copyediting. But I could spend hours and hours to accomplish this.

I decided on the following strategy:
• To use the publisher’s own English-only staff to separate the English and Farsi texts and to look into the reason for the text corruption.
• To help SMY to develop a workflow to produce separate documents containing the texts that needed editing.
• To find out whether or not after my edits the document would circulate among other linguists or editors who might use other operating systems that would ultimately cause more corruption.

Below is the step-by-step implementation of my strategy:
1. I asked the client to create a PDF of the manuscript for reference. In this way, I could see the manuscript exactly as they had it on their end.
2. In the Word documents I highlighted a few passages as samples to show them where the corrupted texts were located.
3. I sent screenshots of those passages, and explained the differences between the English and the Farsi scripts and the reason why those texts were not acceptable.
4. Their staff was able to produce new documents that contained only the text that needed copyediting and a full-book manuscript highlighting those passages so that they are in context.
5. The MS Word files that SMY sent me were easier to edit using Microsoft’s own language settings.

The above tasks would take hours and hours if I had to do them myself; therefore, I saved them money by finding a solution that used their in-house staff. Below is a quote from the coordinator who worked with me on this project:

“Your help has been immeasurable and we very much appreciate it!” – Sara Atlantis

This experience was a learning process. From the beginning the primary concern was to copyedit the Farsi text of a manuscript. But both the client and I encountered unexpected problems. I learned that not only my linguistic skills were needed but also, and maybe more importantly, the need for clear communication was as crucial. The project was successfully and smoothly completed while we stayed within the client’s budget.


* The names of the company and people have been changed for confidentiality