Proofreading Symbols - What they are and where to find them!

When I started university, I had no idea that there was a whole other language when it came to proofreading. Many aren't aware that there are official symbols/markings that can be used when proofreading a piece of writing. It's something I only learned after taking a training course on proofreading specifically.

These symbols are mostly used by publishing companies, and are added to the final proof once it has been checked thoroughly by the copy editor. The proofreader normally uses red ink to make sure it is clearly visible on the document, and the corresponding symbol will be in the margin. When you look at a piece of paper, if you imagine it's been folded in half with a line down the middle, any errors to the left of the line have a symbol in the left-hand margin, and any errors to the right of the line have a symbol in the right-hand margin. Pretty basic.

For many without training though, these symbols might not mean much, and could be difficult to decipher. I remember many of my university assignments having scribbles that I needed to be translated for me!

However, as a proofreader you have to acknowledge that those who come to you for help may not be confident in the meaning behind the marks, and therefore the way you highlight any errors is adaptable. Each client has a different need, and there are many ways to show where corrections are needed. For example, MS Word has an option to 'track changes', where the proofreader/copy editor can make corrections and the client can see these changes as they are highlighted in red. If the document is a PDF, Adobe has an option to highlight the text and add a comment about what needs to be corrected, or you can add stamps (which can be the proofreading symbols). There are other ways as well, and it is something I can discuss with each individual client, as I always want to make sure that the client feels happy and can confidently make any amendments required.

BSI Proof Correction Marks

It can be daunting seeing these little symbols here, there and everywhere on your proof. Rest assured though, I can work in whatever way suits you. There is no denying it, if you have an essay to submit for university/college, you have an employee booklet you are about to publish or you have a novel you've poured your heart and soul into, having me read through your piece will only help.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.

Happy writing!

430 views0 comments