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DELETE — this is one of the more frequently used proofreading marks, and is simply a line through the letter, word, or section to be deleted, with a little curl in the end. Make a similar mark in the margin, too, and add lines to indicate how many deletes are in that one line.
INSERT — this proofreading mark is the "caret" symbol ^. The insert proofreading mark is used widely in proofreading, and can add anything from a single punctuation mark, or a whole paragraph of text. Pop one directly under the place where a letter or word needs adding, and then write the missing letters or words in the margin. We'll discuss other uses of this proofreading mark in subsequent articles.
CLOSE UP — these sideways-curved proofreading marks close unwanted space in a word or sentence. Join them up as shown below. Draw the symbol again in the margin, and mark how many instances occur in that line.
ADD SPACE — the pound sign # is used to add space when proofreading. Draw a vertical line where the space needs to be added, and then put the pound sign in the margin, and lines to indicate how many times this correction occurs in that line of manuscript.
TRANSPOSE — sometimes letters or words get out of the right order. This proofreading mark puts them right again. The proofreading mark is a curly sideways S shape, drawn around the letters or words to be transposed. Then write tr (for transpose) in the margin and circle it (as it's an instruction and not letters to be added to the text), and lines to indicate how many times the correction occurs in that line.
CAPITAL LETTER — to change a letter from lower case to upper case, draw three little lines under the letter in question, and write cap in the margin, circle it, and add lines to show how many times this change occurs in the line.
LOWER CASE LETTER — to change from capital to lower case, strike through the capital letter, and write lc (for lower case) in the margin, circle it, and add lines to show how many times this edit happens in that line.
STET — ooops! This proofreading mark is for correcting a proofreading error, where you've marked something to change, but in fact it is correct. It means "let it stand" in Latin. Draw a line of dots under the error, and write stet in the margin, and circle it.
Here are examples of all these proofreading marks in use. Note that the margin marks are vital, as well as the proofreading marks you make on the text itself. The margin comments are the directions to the compositor, who will be fixing the errors.
Any instructions consisting of letters need to be put in a circle, otherwise they will read them as letters or words to be inserted into the text. So if you don't put STET in a circle, for example, the compositor may well insert the letters STET into your sentence! (They may well also figure out what you really intended, but it's best to be correct from the start!).
The angled lines after the margin marks indicate how many occurrences of that correction are in that particular line.
Now you've got these basic signs under your belt, you can go on to the next article and add some more proofreading symbols to your repertoire!