How to Use Proofreading Marks and Symbols

How to Use Proofreading Marks and Symbols

How would you like writing the same words over and over again instead of using their short forms? We are sure that you would not like it at all given how much time it takes!

That is why, no matter whether you are a professional editor or just helping a friend out, you can always benefit from using professional proofreading marks. They save your time and make the recipient understand what exactly has to be changed in a certain piece of writing. You are probably wondering now “What are proofreading marks and how do I use them?” Worry not, you are going to get all the answers in this article.

The idea of saving time by using proofreading marks and proofreading symbols occurred to editors a long time ago. Even elementary proofreading marks can greatly ease the task of editing. It is interesting to track their history.

The history of proofreading marks

Editors first started using such symbols long time ago. The thing is that before something is published, it has to be edited and proofread by a professional to ensure that no mistakes are made. However, since no electronic devices we use today were available back then, and writers couldn’t go online and use help from proofreading service, the editors had to mark and check everything manually. So, to save some time they have crafted a proofreading marks worksheet that included explanations for each symbol.

Moreover, back then before everything got technologized, editors used special blue pens to mark places they wanted an author to modify. As people familiar with the matter explain, blue marks did not appear on paper after a certain photographic process, so the editors could easily publish what they edited leaving their remarks only noticeable to authors who already saw the symbols.

Now such technologies are no longer in use. But the idea of saving time when editing remains in place. So, editors from all over the world still use symbols to express what they don’t like about particular parts of a text.

You can easily find a lot of proofreading marks pdf online. Or you can study them right here in this article and start using them in order to save some of your precious time.

A list of proofreading marks and symbols

For many reasons, the proofreading symbols chart might be different in different writing companies and publishing houses. Even the proofreading symbols pdf you will find online may differ. The thing is that all editors use various marks and symbols when proofreading depending on the specialization of the writing they proofread.

However, there are some common proofreading symbols which are used by all professional editors, and you can use them too. Even proofreading marks middle school teachers use include some of these.

We have decided not to create a proofreading marks chart for you but rather describe everything in a list as we find it more convenient. You may save it if you find it useful.

  • • – A loop around a word or a paragraph – This basically means that an author should remove this particular part from their text.
  • ¶ – This means that your text is missing a paragraph in this place. An editor suggests splitting one paragraph into several paragraphs. It is one of the college proofreading marks commonly used by teachers.
  • // – Such signs indicate that the construction is missing the parallel meaning. For instance, you can make a list of nouns with one verb which would be an odd one out.
  • / – This is one of the standard proofreading marks. Normally, editors use it when a character is missing. So, check out what exactly might be missing from your text.
  • Three lines under a letter mean that this letter should be capitalized.
  • # – This mark means that an author needs to add a space between words.
  • Agree – This mark means that two key parts of the sentence don’t agree. For example, if you used a plural noun and then used a verb in a singular form, your editor might put this next to it.
  • Use figures – The meaning of this mark is rather clear – it means that instead of writing the numbers in words, one should use actual figures.
  • Ab – When this mark is used, an author should check the abbreviation because it might be incorrect.
  • Awk – Some editors use this mark stating that something sounds awkward which means that there is a different way to phrase it.
  • Cap – No, an editor is not asking you to start wearing a cap but rather implies that something is not right about capitalization in the sentence.
  • -ed – When you see this, you should search for a word which is missing the past tense ending.
  • P/A – Such proofread marks indicate that pronoun and antecedent do not agree in some way. For instance, they might have improper singular or plural forms.
  • CS – This abbreviation stands for comma splicer which means that an editor wants an author to separate two clauses of the sentence in a different way.
  • S/V – There might be problems with the agreement between two key parts of the sentence. One should review it and make sure they are in agreement.
  • Wdy – This means that this part is wordy. So, one should shorten it. For example, instead of writing “There are people who hate proofreading”, one can write “Some people hate proofreading.” You might have a great vocabulary but it is not always appropriate to use too many words as it may influence the flow of your text.
  • Dm – No, it is not a guitar chord. It is used as a short form of “dangling modifier” which means that the subject of the dependent clause is not a subject of the clause which follows it. So, one should make changes and modify the subjects.
  • Expl – By adding this mark on the margin of one’s paper, an editor says that this part lacks evidence or explanation. Add a few more sentences to make the point clear.
  • Exp – It is very close in its meaning to the previous mark. An author should add more evidence or proof to back up their position.
  • Font – There is something wrong with the size of the font in your text. Besides, sometimes it might mean that you are using the wrong style. So, check out the custom requirements.
  • Inc – There is something missing in this sentence which makes it look incomplete.
  • Iq – If you quote some famous people or state that someone familiar with the matter said something and use it as evidence for proving your point, than you should write it as a proper quote. Make sure you use correct citation format here as well.
  • No b – This mark means that an editor wants you to stay away from using bold font here.
  • No it – This proofreading symbol indicates that one should not use italics in the sentence as it seems inappropriate.
  • Sp – When editors add these marks, they suggest that there is something wrong with the spelling in this sentence.
  • Si – This mark stands for “split infinitive” and means that you added a word in between “to” and an infinitive. This is a mistake and an author should fix it.
  • Trans – By using this mark, editors mean that two sentences or paragraphs need proper transitions put in between them for better flow of the whole piece. Sometimes, transitions make it easier for readers to understand the idea of an article and attitude of an author to something in particular.
  • Wc – We know that it might look odd to you but when you see this mark on the margin of your text, don’t assume that an editor is asking directions to the nearest restroom. It stands for “word choice” and means that a writer should pick different words in this context. Some of them might be considered inappropriate or odd.
  • Uncl – If you see this mark, it means that an editor is asking for proper explanations of what you mean by certain words or phrases.
  • Tense – We don’t think that you need an extensive explanation of what this symbol means: it only indicates that there is something wrong with the grammar in this part. Consider checking the tense usage.
  • Mm – This mark can be used in cases when the grammar is ruined by a modifier added in a wrong place. So, “misplaced modifier” indicates that you should move the modifier you used to a different part of the sentence in order not to ruin the point of your piece of writing.
  • Red – Such marks mean that something about your writing can be considered redundant. For instance, writers sometimes repeat the same idea several times even though there is no need for it and the point of an article is clear without the repetition.

All in all, you can save a significant amount of time by using these symbols. Just print them out or find a proofreading marks handout online and start employing it when proofreading texts. It makes the process of editing more organized and creates a handy proofreading system just for you. So, don’t underestimate the value of this tool. Good luck!