The first time you receive your copyedited manuscript, it can be intimidating. It’s as if the codes from The Matrix were regurgitated on to a Word doc. file. So seriously, what do these weird marks strewn all over my beautifully typed pages mean?
The guide below will help serve as a reference for these mysterious copyediting marks. Before you know it, you’ll be deciphering the markings like a pro!
Keep in mind that the logic behind most of these copyediting symbols is simply to make punctuation changes more visible. Who would notice a comma if it didn’t have a little roof above its head?
One more thing: this post only applies to copyeditors who copyedit by hand. Most copyeditors use track changes in Word. See a screenshot below for an example of changes that were made by hand. If you prefer one format over the other, be sure to let us know, and we’ll pair you with a copyeditor who has the same preference.
Handwritten Copyediting Marks
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 2013 and has been updated for accuracy.
Proofreading symbols are like a foreign language to most people; they are often considered to be an indecipherable series of squiggles, letters, and symbols that mean absolutely nothing to the regular guy or girl on the street. Unless you know what these proofreading marks actually mean, using them to improve and develop your writing is absolutely impossible.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common proofreading symbols that are in use by professional native English proofreaders and explain why they are important for proofreaders who are looking for a career in editing.
What on Earth are Proofreading Symbols?
Proofreading symbols are the marks that a proofreader makes on a paper when they edit it. They are a coded set of instructions that point out where mistakes have been made and how a piece of writing can be improved. They are aimed at highlighting grammatical and punctuation errors as well as layout, formatting and vocabulary issues on a hard copy document (a physical, printed-out version). Let’s have a look at these dreaded proofreading symbols.
Proofreading Symbols Cheat Sheet
If you are interested in learning proofreading symbols, this cheat sheet will be of great use to you.
Breathe a Sigh of Relief
If you took one look at the proofreading cheat sheet and felt a cold shiver run down your spine, don’t panic. The good news is that proofreading symbols are no longer as important as they once were. The wide-spread availability of computers means that the majority of proofreaders now highlight the required changes on an electronic copy of the document. In addition to this, instead of merely pointing out that there is an issue, most proofreaders now actually fix the problem and use the track changes tool on the word processor to show the client where the corrections have been made. The client is then free to either accept or reject each change as they see fit. This methodology makes the proofreading process much more efficient and allows the proofreader to provide the client with much more help than making a few squiggles here and there.
If all this is a bit mind-blowing, take a look at this humorous take on lesser known proofreading marks.
Vappingo’s Proofreading Services
Unless specifically instructed otherwise, Vappingo’s proofreaders always use the track changes functionality in Microsoft Word. This is much more useful to you than proofreading marks alone because it provides you with practical help with your written English; it both highlights mistakes AND shows you how to remedy them. As one of our customers, you don’t need to spend hours trying to decipher proofreading symbols, you can simply review each change that the proofreader has made in turn, and either reject it or accept it. Simple.
Submit your document for our proofreading services today for a speedy, efficient service that provides you the help you really need.