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Proofreading 101: The Marks Of A Master Proofer

As most authors know, first drafts are often nowhere near the final, polished manuscripts that will be sent to literary editors and agents. Revising your initial work is one of the most important elements of good writing. Your first draft serves to get your ideas down on paper (or into your computer)—editing makes sure those ideas come across as articulately as possible.

During the editing process, you (or the person who’s proofreading your work for you) should use standard proofreading marks. These marks are a quick shorthand for longer descriptions of the grammar changes that need to be made to your writing.

If you’re a new writer, or are just unfamiliar with proofreading marks, here are a few of the most basic proofreading marks every author should know. Get ready to wield your red pen with confidence!

Proofreading Marks: Hints And Cheat Sheet

Take it out: This is one of the most commonly used marks in proofreading. More often than not, you will have something in your manuscript that needs to be removed. Whether it’s a typo, a needless detail, or an erroneous letter, word, or sentence that doesn’t belong, take it out with this mark.


Add it in: Avoid dinner disasters like this by using an “add” mark! Not only can you use this to add punctuation to your sentences, you can also use it to enter entire words!


When adding single letters, Instead of using the “caret” mark shown above, you should use a dash. It’s much more fun to find ice cream on the table than copious amounts of sand.

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Transpose: If you want to swap the placement of two adjacent words, this is the mark to use. This mark can also be used to swap larger groups of text, and even complete sentences. All you have to do is encapsulate the text you want to swap within the curve.


Close the space: This mark is used to indicate the closure of a space between words that should be compound, or even extra spaces that manifested themselves due to a few too many taps of the space bar!


Capitalization: Whether long hours of writing cause you to overlook something that should have been capitalized, or you simply make a mistake, you will need to use the capitalization mark more often than you might expect.


Knowing these proofreading marks will help you communicate your changes more effectively and get the editing results you want. For convenience, we’ve included a  list of proofing marks below. Happy editing!






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