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Smooth Reading FAQ

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DP Official Documentation - Smooth Reading
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This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Smooth Reading. Note that the contents here have been copied from the main wiki, and links other than those internal to this page have not yet been resolved.

General Information

What is Smooth Reading?

Smooth Reading is reading a text as you would read any e-book, paying a little closer attention and making notations where you spot anything that disrupts the flow of the text. It is reading for smoothness and sense, with an eye out for anything that would jar or jolt an average reader. It is also a great way to get a sneak preview of a book before it is posted to Project Gutenberg.

What isn't Smooth Reading?

It is not DP proofreading; you do not need to compare the text with the page scans. It is not professional proofreading or copy-editing; the concept is to preserve what the author wrote. It is not a complete Post Processing or Post-Processing Verification; it is not necessary to ensure that every minor piece of formatting follows the guidelines.

Why is it useful?

Even after multiple rounds of proofreading and a Post Processor's tender loving care, texts may still contain errors. Rather than having these issues reported after the book has been posted to Project Gutenberg, it is desirable to correct them before they are uploaded. A fresh perusal, such as that provided by a Smooth Reader, can catch errors that have been overlooked. It also provides valuable feedback to the Post Processors on how they can improve their finished projects.

For Smooth Readers

What are the basic steps for Smooth Reading?

  • Find a book in which you are interested. Books available for Smooth Reading are listed in the Smooth Reading Pool. Clicking on the book's title will take you to its related Project Page.
  • Check the Instructions for Smooth Reading section on the Project Page for notes or extra information from the Post Processor.
  • Download the file to be Smooth-read: Scroll down the Project Page to the section labeled Smooth Reading. Clicking the link Download zipped text for smooth reading should start the download process. The file size is displayed beside the download link so that those with slow connections will know what to expect. Many books now have additional formats available--the notes mentioned above should mention that, and how to get a copy of your preferred format if it's other than the text file.
  • DP members may select the [Volunteer to SR] button. This is entirely optional (and revocable). It lets the Post Processor know someone is smooth reading it, and gives them a way to contact you should the need arise. An alternative method is to send the PPer a Private Message (PM) and let them know you are smoothing it.
  • The downloaded file will be in "zip" format; the file to be smooth-read is inside and needs to be extracted for smooth reading (see What software/tools do I need? in next section).
  • Now for the fun part! Read through the file, noting any errors or other issues using this format: [**your correction or query]. Don't forget to save as you go along.
  • When you are finished smooth reading the e-text, or have read as much as you can, "zip" it back up and upload it; the Upload a smooth-read text link can be found on the same Project Page in the Smooth Reading section.
  • Additionally, or if you didn't find anything to mark, you may send a PM to the Post Processor (PPer) letting them know you have finished smoothing their book. PPer's appreciate any results, but be aware that the system can't keep track of SRs that are not uploaded to the project page.

What software/tools do I need?

  • A Web browser (it looks like you have one, since you are reading this).
  • A text viewer--whatever you normally use to read text files: a text editor is the most common (e.g. Notepad, TextEdit, Textpad); a Web browser, word processor, e-Book Reader, or paper print-out will also work.
    • A mono-spaced font is a good idea. Anything in the text version of an e-text may have something that has been aligned based on all characters being the same width — the Table of Contents, for instance.
    • If you use a word processor, remember to save as plain text when you save the file to upload back to the project.
  • A 'zip' compression program or utility to open the downloaded file, and to compress it again for uploading.
    • You may already have something suitable on your computer that will zip/unzip files; programs such as WinZip, ZipIt, Stuffit Expander, File Roller will work, and *nix users may alternately use the zip/unzip utility from the command line. Whatever you use, make sure it can compress your file into a .zip file. Other formats such as gz, tar, or rar will not work. Any Windows XP computer can unzip and zip files without any extra software.
  • If the project you choose for smooth reading is in Portable Document Format (PDF), you will need a program capable of reading it. Adobe Reader is the most common of these programs and there are others available for free as well. Your computer may already have a suitable program or utility installed.

What types of projects go through the SR Pool?

It is up to the Post Processors; the Smooth-reading phase is an optional one, and not all projects will go through it.

The e-texts available for SRing vary from day to day. If you don't find something to your liking one day, check back again later. You are likely to discover almost anything paddling in the SR Pool, from Adventure, Juvenile, and Periodicals, all the way through Zoology.

It is not limited to English texts, either. You may discover e-texts in Dutch, Esperanto, French, German, Portuguese, or Spanish, etc., as well as exotic combinations such as English with Dakota, English with Scottish Gaelic, German with French, Greek, Ancient (to 1453) with English, Navaho with English, Scots with English, Spanish with English, and Spanish with French.

Can I request a particular e-text to Smooth Read?

As long as it is a project already created at DP, yes. (Requesting books not yet created at DP falls under Content Providing. E-texts that have already been archived can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg.) While it is up to the Post Processor, many do take requests into consideration when deciding whether or not to put their project through the Smooth-Reading Pool. Requests can be made at any time, preferably before the project reaches the Post-Processing stage.

There are a few ways to let the Post Processor know you are interested:

  • You can post your interest in the project thread.
  • DP members can request an e-mail notification when a project becomes available for Smooth Reading; the Post Processor will be able to see how many people requested SR notifications.
    • To receive an e-mail notification: On the Project Page, scroll down to the Event Subscriptions section, and tick the Subscribed? box next to "Project becomes available for smooth-reading". Don't forget to click the [Update Event Subscriptions] button to save your request.
    • Make sure your e-mail address is correct while you are there (it is displayed just above the Event Subscriptions section).
  • If you know who the Post Processor is or will be, you could send your request in a PM to them.

What will a smoothie-ready text look like?

Smooth Reading-ready texts downloaded from the project page should most commonly[1] be in plain text format, and so they will have underscores showing italics (_like this_), and the PPer's choice of formatting for bold (commonly = or ALL CAPS). The Smooth Reading Pool page gives an idea of the length of the book. It will not have illustrations.

PPers currently often have other formats, such as epub, mobi and HTML available for download from personal web space, or available by email upon request.

[1] LaTeX projects are usually provided in PDF format.

What if I accidentally upload the wrong smooth-read file?

You can upload the right one and the new copy will overwrite the old.

How long will I get to read?

The project's listing in the SR Pool and the project page both show how many days the project has left before leaving the Pool. Most PPers are willing to return a project to the Pool if asked, so check to see if the deadline is approaching and if you think you might miss it, contact the PPer.

What if I can't start/finish it?

This is a completely obligation-free activity! If you take a text and never get a chance to look at it - that's okay. If you can read half of it in the time given - just upload the file with those comments. A partial smooth-read is better than nothing. Even just one potential mistake spotted is valuable. As a courtesy to the PPer, [**note] where you start and finish.

Can I share a book with another smoothyer?

Absolutely. There is no formalized method for sharing a book with another person, but if you know someone who would enjoy sharing a book with you, by all means, divvy it up between you. Or post in the team discussion to see if someone else would like to take one part of a book while you take the other. At the very least, the PPer will get at least a partial smooth read for the book. And as with a normal partial Smoothy, [**note] where you start and finish.

What is a mistake?

Mistakes are in the eye of the beholder. Authors were sometimes terrible spellers, editors were sometimes eccentric in style, print-setters sometimes had liquid lunches. Just note anything you *think* might be an issue. The PPer will check against the original text and decide what action (if any) to take.

How do I indicate possible problems?

Place notes or corrections in the file immediately after each error or other problem: [**correction or query]. If you are SRing in a format other than the plain text file, you can still use the text file to note any errors you find (and let the PPer know which format you SRed), or you can create a separate text file with enough context to let the PPer locate the problem area, along with the problem you found.

How do I get the feedback to the PPer?

When you have finished, or have read as far as you can, save your file in .txt format and zip it. Your zip file name should be reasonably short, have no spaces or special characters other than _ and -, contain only numbers 0-9 and/or lower case letters, and use the suffix .zip only. Do not use .ZIP, .Zip or try to upload .tar files or other compression formats, as they will not work.

Click on the book's title on the Smooth Reading Pool page. This will link you to the project page for the book. The page should automatically open at detail level 3. Scroll down until you see the section labeled Smooth Reading, and a link to Upload a smooth-read text. Click on this link and navigate to where the smooth read zip file is located on your system, and then click on the Upload button.

NOTE: If you wish to upload a partial SR, but later have more to add for the same book, you should be aware that a second upload from the same SRer for the same project will overwrite the previous upload. If you and the PPer wish to preserve the original comments in the file, please ensure that all comments that need to be preserved are in the zip file that is uploaded.

You can also contact the PPer by PM to report, but as mentioned in other sections, the site software has no way to keep track of SRs not uploaded back to the project page.

What if I did not find any mistakes?

This is also valuable information and you should let the PPer know. You can do this by:

  • Putting a [**note] at the beginning of the file and upload it
  • Sending a PM

I have this friend...

Great! This process is especially good for people who like 'regular' proof-reading or reading Gutenberg texts. Anyone can look at the smooth-reading pool page, and download files - they don't have to be a DP member. To return comments, however, they will need to register, or know the PPer's email address (and be sure that the PPer is happy to receive files by email!). Or you will have to upload their commented file for them.

For post-processors

Is my book suitable/will it benefit?

Unless your book is extremely specialized and took months to crawl through the proofing rounds, it probably will be suitable for smooth-reading. As for benefit - *any* mistakes picked up before posting to PG are good! And if no errors are found; that's a big gold star for your post-processing style :D

Where do I find smooth readers?

You can request them in this thread or in the project thread - but the best way is by submitting your e-text to the Smooth Reading Pool via its project page so that it will appear on the Smooth Reading Pool page, which has been specially designed for this. Smoothyers will probably look first at that page for books to review.

If your project is in a language other than English, or if it might possibly be of interest to members of a special team, it doesn't hurt to also mention in those discussions that you've made the book available for SRing.

How much post-processing should I do first?

It depends on your post-processing workflow. Traditional advice has been to complete the .txt version, and submit this for smooth reading before generating HTML. This means that you have just a single file to make changes in. The text file that you upload to the pool for SRing should be in what you hope will be its final version, as well as any other formats you provide. Some PPers complete the text version, first, and wait until it leaves the pool to finish PPing, possibly working on illustrations, or even a different book while waiting. Others complete all formats at the same time and make updates in a single source and regenerate all formats from the updated source.

What format should it be in?

There are three acceptable formats. Most titles are text-only (the preferred format). A very few books are formatted using LaTeX (primarily those that have a lot of equations or other things that would be difficult to format using text or html) and come to us in pdf format. Some PPers also include an html version of their books--however, there are some caveats, mentioned below, that the PPer should be aware of.

Should I include the .bin file?

If you have Post Processed your project using guiguts, please do not include the .bin file. This is useful to the PPer and the PPVer, but should not be made available in the SR upload.

File names

File names should be reasonably short, and contain only lower case letters, the numbers 0-9, - and/or _, and the one dot separating the filename from the extension. No spaces or other special characters not already mentioned. It should be zipped using a program that will zip it without any invisible files from the operating system, and have a .zip extension. Do not use .ZIP, .Zip or try to upload .tar files or other compression formats, as they simply will not work.

Text Only

Acceptable character encodings are ASCII, ISO-Latin-1, and UTF-8. Latin-1 is assumed unless the filename has utf8 appended to it. Make sure your filename matches the character encoding used. Some smoothyers use software for smooth reading that may require them to switch encoding manually before opening a UTF-8 file, in order for the file not to contain incomprehensible characters. It is also helpful to mention in your upload notes if your file is not Latin-1. If your file is UTF-8 encoded, please ensure it does not have a Byte-Order Mark (BOM).


LaTeX formatted and PP'd files are provided in PDF format. In this case, you should give instructions to the SRers on how to note possible errors: many are not able to annotate PDF files, so listing the errors in a separate text file may be the best option. Also, since your zipped PDF may be a large download, it is a good idea to warn the smoothreaders of the file size.


Actually including an html in the zip file submitted for smooth reading is discouraged unless it is a very small file and contains no illustrations. Some smoothyers are still limited to dial-up internet connections, and including a large html may limit your likelihood of the book being smoothed. However, many smoothyers do like having access to the html version if it is available for smooth reading. Some PPers have personal web space where they can place an html version, and some post the html in free web space, and then post the link in the SR instructions. If neither of these is an option, you could also leave a comment that the html version is available on request, and make private arrangements with anyone who wants it.

How do I provide a file for smooth-reading?

After you have prepared the .txt version as noted in How much post-processing should I do first?, go to the Project Page (reachable by clicking on the title of the book, in your PP page). Scroll down to the Smooth Reading secion below the Project Comments, and you will see some links allowing you to upload a book to make it available for smooth reading, for either one, two or four weeks. Choose which length of time you wish to submit your project for, and click on that link. It will take you to a page where you can browse for the file to upload, and type in some comments that will be shown to smoothreaders. If you have any special instructions (see below), or just want to describe the contents of the book in more detail, add them here.

Special instructions: these might be about what to mark up or not, but hopefully not HOW to mark up. If the desired SR correction markup is always asked to be done the same single standard way (described elsewhere in this document; basically: don't change or correct anything, just add [**correction or query] right after the spot of dubiousness) then once a SRer has learnt it once, on one project, they will be ready to smoothread ALL projects.

How long will it take?

You can set how long you wish your book to be available. The standard times are 1, 2 or 4 weeks. If you wish to allow more time, you can make the book available again, once the time in the pool has expired, for an additional 1, 2 or 4 weeks as many times as you need to. Make sure you upload the same file, as it will be overwritten. Once you have uploaded a SR file for a specific time, you cannot decrease the amount of time a book is available for (this would be unfair to the smoothies who are working on your book already.)

When deciding how long to put your project in for SR, take into consideration:

  • Any known special deadlines you may have (i.e. an upcoming vacation, a special day).
  • Size--not in pages (because page size can vary widely) but in kilobytes. The larger the file, the more time the smooth readers will need to finish reading it.

Things to guard against

The following three ways are documented to remove a book from SR, but should be avoided.

  • Uploading for PPV before the set time interval is finished. Consequence: Pulls book from SR, but does not clear the clock. If the book is returned by the PPVer to PP, or pulled from PPV by the PPer, it will go back into the SR pool to finish out its original interval if that interval has not already expired.
  • Returning a book to the PP Pool. Consequence: This clears the clock completely. If the PPer changes his or her mind and checks the same book out again, and re-uploads for SR, the clock will be reset.
  • Uploading to Project Gutenberg (for those with DU). Consequence: The book disappears from the pool, but not until it is marked Posted by DP. For this to happen, the PP/PPVer has to upload the book, the book has to be checked out by a WWer at PG, the notification by the WWer to DP is sent, and DP marks it posted. This last step is the one that actually removes it from the pool. The interval can be very short (perhaps as little as an hour or so, depending on the WW process), or can be several days. In the latter case, it is entirely possible that a new SR will be uploaded when the book is no longer available to the PPer. Disappearance from the SR Pool listing cannot be automated based on upload, because the upload interface is PG, not DP.

How do I get feedback?

The preferred method is for the SRer to zip the file that the feedback is contained in, and upload it to the project page. This is the only way that the server can keep track of SRs.

What do I do with the feedback?

You will need to consider any issues raised by the [**correction or query] notes and deal with them as you would with any proofers' or formatters' notes. Some genuine scannos or missing words may need to be changed. Other 'errors' may be a deliberate author / editor mistake which you will take a different action on. You do NOT have to act on a smoothie's suggestions if you don't want to. Use your best judgment, your knowledge of DP & PG guidelines and ask questions in the PPing forum if need be.

Can I get non-DPers involved?

Yes! The smooth-reading page has deliberately been made accessible to those not signed in so that you can, if you wish, promote your almost-finished book on relevant mailing lists that you are a member of, or to observant friends. Do Not Spam Your Book. Don't forget that smoothies without DP-accounts cannot upload their commented text, so you will need to ask them to join up, or else provide them with an email address to contact you through.

Last edited: 2017-07-03

To comment or request edits to this page, please contact srjfoo.
To comment or request edits to this page, please contact srjfoo.
To comment or request edits to this page, please contact srjfoo.
To comment or request edits to this page, please contact srjfoo.
To comment or request edits to this page, please contact srjfoo.

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