The Proofreader’s Marks

Have you ever looked at a paper that your teacher handed you back, with her scribbles in red ink all over the page asking you to revise, and you didn’t have a clue what she meant? You’re seeing brackets and squigglies and letters with circles around them–it’s obvious she has a system–but it just looks like jibberish? If she’s a trained writer/editor, there’s a good chance she was using the Proofreader’s Marks. And, if you didn’t understand them, there’s a good chance you never learned them.

All writers and editors ought to be familiar with the Chicago Manual of Style’s Proofreader’s Marks. These marks were created in order to establish a common language among writers, editors, and proofreaders to make revision simple and straightforward. By learning these 21 marks, you’ll be amazed at how quickly and systematically you can edit someone’s paper and how quickly they will understand what you meant. Trust me, it’s worth taking the time to learn these!

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