Today, Microsoft Word’s Track Changes features are the editing tools of choice. But, red pens and hand-marked edits won’t journey to the land of dinosaurs and VHS tapes as long as we still use real paper from time to time. Here is a simple graphic demonstrating ten handwritten editing marks: delete, insert, transpose, paragraph, period, comma, apostrophe, quotation marks, capitalize, and lowercase.
Each mark is described below the graphic.
Delete: The delete mark is a line through the letter, word, or words that should be deleted. The line ends in an upward loop.
Insert: The insert mark looks like an upside-down letter v. Position the insert mark under the spot where the letter, word, or words should be inserted.
Transpose: The transpose mark is a line that curves around the letters, word, or words that need to be reversed.
Paragraph: The paragraph mark looks like a small letter c with two longer vertical lines extending through it.
Period: The period mark is a dot in a circle. For clarity, also use the insert mark to show where the period should be placed.
Comma: The comma mark is a comma in an insert mark.
Apostrophe: The apostrophe mark is an apostrophe in an inverted insert mark.
Quotation mark: The mark for a single quotation mark is a quotation mark in an inverted insert mark.
Capitalize: The capitalize mark is three horizontal lines under the letter that should be capitalized.
Lowercase: The lowercase mark is a line through the letter that should be lowercased. If the whole word needs to be lowercased, draw the line through the first letter and then extend a horizontal line over the rest of the word.
Your copy editor or proofreader may use variants of the marks shown above. If you encounter marks you’re not familiar with, don’t hesitate to ask him or her for clarification.
Are you ready for more copyediting and proofreading marks? Check out my related post “Ten More Handwritten Editing Marks,” which demonstrates parentheses, spaces, bold font, italic font, remove formatting, en dashes, em dashes, close spaces, hyphens, and stet.