Proofreading Marks

Proofreading marks are vital to the editing process. A printed copy with proofreading marks is always preferable to a text file jumbled with lines and bubbles. Aside from taking strain off the proofreader‘s eyes, recent studies indicate that attention to detail increases when looking at a hard copy instead of staring at a screen. That means better quality proofreading, and smart proofreading services will take that advantage.

This means lots of lines, squiggles, and circles to decipher. Taking advantage of better proofreading jobs means knowing what all those symbols mean. Proofreading marks are easy to understand with a few basics in mind.

Carets ( ˄ ) are one of the most common proofreading marks. They point out where to insert punctuation, words, or phrases. Carets should always be closest to where the fix is needed, i.e. above the line for an apostrophe, below the line for a comma. Although it can be tempting to call these little arrows, it’s easy to look professional and remember the proper term: caret is Latin for “it is lacking.”

Deletion proofreading marks are another common symbol. This is a line through the text that loops over itself. This mark can be used for letters, words, phrases, or even whole paragraphs in some settings. Never doubt the power of deletion! Sometimes it’s necessary to remove not only mistakes, but also information that slows down the transfer of important ideas.

Lines are used as proofreading marks in a variety of forms. Three lines underneath a letter mean to capitalize it. A line, not a deletion mark, through a letter means to make it lowercase. An unbroken line that goes over one word and below another means to transpose the words. It’s important to recognize the small differences between line marks, since it can be hard to distinguish one line from another.

The last basic proofreading mark is the circle, often used to set off proofing notes. Some common circle marks are ‘wc’ for “word choice”, ‘lc’ for “lower case”, and ‘OK?’ to point out irregularities. Something circled means ‘look at me!’

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