Last updated: June 1, 2017
An overview of commonly used proofreading symbols
If you've ever had a hard copy of a document proofread, chances are that you're familiar with the strange typology of professional proofreaders. Your returned document is so full of symbols (hieroglyphics? squiggles? cuneiform script?!) that you think it has been translated into Martian!
These strange markings are the "footprint" that your proofreader has left on the document to highlight where changes need to be made to the text. The proofreader uses a series of symbols and abbreviations to suggest changes, correct spelling errors, improve punctuation, and generally enhance the quality and readability of a hard copy document.
Locating proofreading marks
In hard copy proofreading, corrections typically appear in the left or right margins beside the line containing the error. A mark is also placed in the text to indicate where the correction needs to be made. A caret (^) indicates an addition, and a line through the text indicates a deletion or a replacement. Proofreading marks are traditionally written in red ink for better visibility.
Frequently used proofreading marks
Delete: , , or
Delete a letter: a diagonal line through the letter with the delete mark in the margin
Delete a word: a straight line through the word with the delete mark in the margin
Close up a space:
Delete letters and close up a word:
Period or full stop:
Insert or superscript:
Insert or subscript:
Insert apostrophe or single quotation mark:
Insert double quotation marks:
Insert en dash: , , or
Insert em dash: , , or
Centered: , or
Frequently used abbreviations
Let it stand:
Faulty diction: DICT
Awkwardly expressed or constructed: AWK
Wordy, too verbose: WDY
Wrong word used (e.g. to/too): WW
Eliminate the need for proofreading marks
Deciphering a proofreader's suggested changes used to take hours; fortunately, it doesn't have to any more. Submit your document to any of our proofreading services today for a speedy, easy-to-use document review that makes use of Tracked Changes instead.
Image source: Kay Ransom/BigStockPhoto.com
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It's common for many people, including business professionals and first-time Scribendi.com clients, to be a bit unclear about the differences between editing and proofreading.
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Essay Grading Scheme and Correction Symbols
Components of letter grades for essays and rewrites:
|Content 50%||Language (simple, clear, accurate) 50%|
Rewrites [==> den Aufsatz revidieren]: You will rewrite your essays based on your instructor's feedback and the correction symbols below. Your final essay grade will be calculated as follows:
|First draft [=die erste Fassung] 50%||Rewrite [=die Neufassung] 50%|
Essay Correction Symbols
FOREST LEVEL: These are your HIGHEST PRIORITY and will significantly affect your grade on essays and tests! Write simply and clearly. Use the dictionary thoughtfully and sparingly (use the German you know!). Pay attention to case (Nominative, Accusative and Dative)
|?||Meaning is unclear. This is usually the result of trying to translate an idea literally from English.|
ID and ID* both mean that you have made a mistake with an IDiomatic expression. This usually means you've tried to translate an English idiom literally into German when that can't be done, e.g. "this evening" = "heute Abend" and not "";"the first time" = "das erste Mal" and not "." ID* indicates that the error is especially serious or distracting.
The following combinations of ID + number indicate some common idiomatic mistakes to avoid:
W* and W both indicate that you've chosen the wrong word, but W* indicates that the mistake is especially serious. Examples are:
Most such errors can be avoided by
The following combinations of W + number indicate some common word choice mistakes to avoid:
|SO||Remember that subjects of verbs are Nominative and objects of verbs or prepositions are Accusative or Dative (for Genitive errors we'll use GEN--see below). |
|GG||Grotesque Gender mistakes e.g. die Vater, die Mann, das Mutter, das Frau - or multiple genders for the same noun|
TREE LEVEL: These are fundamental verb mistakes that will stand out to anyone walking through your forest.
|ING||Remember German has no -ing form: I go = I am going = Ich gehe. I went = I was going = Ich ging OR Ich bin gegangen. Wrong are e.g. "," "".|
|MV||Modal Verb mistakes (errors in conjugation; failing to use "modal + infinitive")|
|SV||Subject and Verb do not agree|
|TM||Wrong Tense [Present/Past…] or Mood [indicative vs. subjunctive] of the verb|
WEED LEVEL: We don't want to see too many weeds in your garden BUT any interesting garden will have a few. Don't feel bad
|AD||You've confused Accusative and Dative. Where the reason for the error is ambiguous, we may write SO/AD.|
|DN||Nouns add an "-n" in the dative plural. DN indicates that you've either forgotten this extra -n we add to the regular plural form in the Dative, or added one where it's not needed.|
|EA||Don't confuse Ein-word endings and Adjective endings!|
|GEN||GENitive mistakes: |
|GR||Capitalization [=GRoß- und Kleinschreibung]|
|I||Punctuation [=Interpunktion]. Usually means you need to insert or delete a comma.|
|ID||IDiomatic expression. See ID* under "Forest Level" for more information!|
|NN||Wrong form of an N-Noun. N-Nouns, also known as weak nouns, are a special class of masculine nouns that add an -en or -n ending whenever they are not in the Nominative singluar. E.g. der Student ==> den/dem/des Studenten; der Herr ==> den/dem/des Herrn. They include the male forms of some occupations (Student, Professor, Biologe, Astronaut, Philosoph, Kollege...), some male animals (Elefant, Affe, Drache), and some other nouns (Junge, Herr, Kunde, Planet...)|
|P||Wrong OR missing Preposition|
|PA||This note means you need to use the PAssive, i.e. the appropriate form of "werden" + a past participle.|
|PL||Wrong PLural form (for nouns)|
|RP||Wrong/missing Relative Pronoun|
The word you need is SIMilar to the word you have used. We'll use this if you've confused similar words like "dass" and "das," "antworten" and "beantworten," "Strahlen" [=rays] and "Strahlung" [=radiation].
|V||Other Verb problems not included in the above categories (ING, MV, SV, TM, VP). These include errors in conjugating the verb [e.g. instead of er/sie/es gibt], using the wrong form of the participle [e.g. instead of gemacht], or using the wrong auxiliary verb [haben vs. sein]. [Do not confuse V and W: V ==> change verb form or change the auxiliary verb, but keep using this verb; W ==> use a different word]|
|W||Wrong Word [Do not confuse V and W: V ==> change verb form, but keep using this verb; W ==> use a different word]. See W* under "Forest Level" for more information!|
|Wst||Word order [=Wortstellung] [for word order mistakes other than verb position (VP)]|
|>||Word missing [usually (but not always) an article or reflexive pronoun]|