List of Proofreading Marks

Proofreading marks are not just for editors. Students, teachers and peer reviewers find these marks easier than writing out every change on the paper. Hundreds of combinations of the proofreading marks exist, though there are a few tried and true marks that almost everyone understands. The symbols become more complex the higher the education.


A caret looks like a "V," but can be used upside down and sideways as well to insert something into the document. Use carets to inset commas, periods, quotation marks, apostrophes, spaces, letters, words, phrases or any punctuation mark. Another mark for inserting a space is a pound sign paired with a caret. If the spacing is unequal, you would write "eq #," meaning "equal spacing." The mark for inserting a period is a period with a circle around it near the place it needs to be added.

Basic Punctuation

Draw three lines under the letter or word that needs to be capitalized. In order to change something to lower case, use a diagonal line, or back slash, to strike though the specific letter or word. To make it clearer, place an "lc" by the mark to indicate "lowercase." Use the same back slash mark to separate one word that should be two, by placing the mark where the space should take place. Delete a letter or word by crossing it out with a mark that looks like a lowercase, cursive "L," a line with an upward loop. The letters SP with a circle around them indicate two things. One use is that something should be spelled out, such as weight or age, however, another use is "spell check," when a word appears as though it is spelled incorrectly.

Movement or Changes in Font

Two curved lines, looking like sideways quotation marks, mean to "close up" a space, such as a typo or two words that should be one. In order to convey that letters or words should be transposed, a sideways "S" would be placed around the two, marking that they should be switched in order. For example, "lettre" should be "letter," therefore the transposing mark would be placed in between the "r" and "e." Place font attributes, such as "Ital," "bf" or "ROM" by an underlined word to indicate "italics," "boldface" or "roman," respectively. "WF" means wrong font choice.

Layout and Structure

A paragraph proofreading mark looks like to vertical straight lines with a "C" placed face down near the top. Placing the paragraph symbol near the start of the sentence means that a new paragraph should be started at that time. If the mark is placed with a "no" in front of it, it means that a new paragraph should not be started just yet. A left bracket means that a sentence should be set farther to the left and a right bracket means that it should be set farther to the right. Use abbreviations to convey change as well. "Awk" means awkward, "dangl. mod." means that it is a dangling modifier, "r-o" is a run-on sentence, and a question mark with a circle around it means that the meaning or intent of the writer is unclear.