Standard Proofreading Marks Used in Proofreading Jobs

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Copy editors and proofreaders use a system of standard marks that act as shorthand for noting changes and corrections in the text they edit or proof. While not all of these marks are used frequently, there is a mark available to indicate almost any change that might be necessary during the proofreading or copy editing process. Some of these marks are more commonly used than others.

"Insert Marks"

  • There are several marks used to indicate to the writer that something needs to be inserted in the text. A circle with a dot inside it indicates a period should be inserted at the place where the mark indicates. Other insert marks include colon, semi-colon, exclamation marks and commas. The mark for inserting a comma is the comma with a caret mark indicating where the comma should be placed in the text. The same mark holds true for quotation marks. When a space needs to be inserted, the copy editor inserts # to indicate this.

"Deletion" Marks

  • Some marks are used to indicate removing elements. A curved line that looks similar to an upside down cursive capital L is used to indicate a word or punctuation should be deleted. This mark is placed over the element to be deleted. Using this mark in conjunction with a half circle written around it, one above and one below, indicates a space should be removed and closed up. Two half-circle marks written one over the other (forming what almost looks like a full circle, without the sides closed) indicates a space should be removed.

"Transposing" or "Moving" Marks

  • Several marks are used to indicate something in the text should be moved or transposed. A bracket with the closed end facing right tells a writer to move a word or sentence to the right one place. A bracket with the closed side facing left tells a writer to move an element left. Brackets are used in similar fashion to indicate moving text up or down. Two vertical short lines indicate text should be aligned vertically.

Margin Direction

  • Some marks are written in the margin of the work being proofed or edited. These marks include "out, see copy," which means something has been omitted from the original text. The abbreviation "ital" is used in the margin to indicate something should be italic. A small "sc" means small caps should be used, "tr" written in the margin means transpose and "stet" in the margin means to let it stand.

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