Editing: Proofreading Marks 2

Proofreading marks are used when you're editing and marking up a printed paper manuscript. Whether you have an essay to edit, or a whole book that's on its way to press (congratulations!), these proofreading marks will help you do a professional job.

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Make sure you read Proofreading Marks 1 first, to get a good grounding in the basic proofreading marks. Further proofreading marks are explained below.


boldBOLD — draw a wavy line underneath the words that need to be in bold, and write bf (for bold face) in the margin and circle it.

italicsITALICS — underline any text that needs to be set in italics, and add ital in the margin and circle it (this is very important, as it indicates to the compositor that ital is an instruction and not letters to be added).

paragraphPARAGRAPH — draw a vertical line where the paragraph should start, and the backwards P symbol just above it. As usual, repeat the symbol in the margin.

apostropheAPOSTROPHE — draw in place, with an upside down ^ caret mark. Repeat the symbol in the margin.

commaCOMMA — draw the comma in position, and highlight it with an "insert" mark (the ^ or caret symbol). Draw it in the margin too, along with "number lines" to show how many commas have been inserted into that line.

fullstopFULL STOP or PERIOD — a dot that is then circled to highlight it. Repeat in the margin.

semicolonSEMICOLON — draw the semicolon in place, with angle brackets above and below it to clearly highlight its correct position. Duplicate the symbol in the margin as well.

colonCOLON — a colon is added using two angle brackets above and below to clearly indicate its position. Add the symbol to the margin as well.

parenthesesPARENTHESES — to add parentheses to text, draw them in place, with two little lines crossing each one. Make sure they're pointing the right way around! Add the symbols to the margin as well.

spelloutSPELL OUT — sometimes a number or abbreviation will need to be spelt out in full. Generally, if a number's name is short, or if it's a low number, then it will be spelt out. Circle the words or numbers to be spelt out, and put sp in a circle in the margin.

Here are examples of all these 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.

After every proofreading mark in the margin, you should draw a vertical stroke for the number of times a particular edit occurs in that line of manuscript. Marking the margin in this way helps to make sure your compositor or editor doesn't miss anything. For example, if there are four words to be set in italics in one line, you'd draw four vertical lines after the "ital in a circle" symbol.

Proofreading Marks 2


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Last modified on Saturday, 28 November 2015 08:04
English Language Skills (Denise)

English Language Skills (Denise)

I'm a syndicated puzzle writer, with 8 puzzle books to my name, including Word Searches for Dummies and Cracking Codes and Cryptograms for Dummies (with Mark Koltko-Rivera). I have a background in science and graphic design, and am a trained indexer. My favourite puzzles are cryptic crosswords. and my favourite books are murder mysteries and cookbooks. I am also a very keen knitter.

I write a blog all about puzzles, called Puzzling.

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