The first time you receive your copyedited manuscript, it can be intimidating. It’s as if the codes from The Matrix were regurgitated on to a Word doc. file. So seriously, what do these weird marks strewn all over my beautifully typed pages mean?
The guide below will help serve as a reference for these mysterious copyediting marks. Before you know it, you’ll be deciphering the markings like a pro!
Keep in mind that the logic behind most of these copyediting symbols is simply to make punctuation changes more visible. Who would notice a comma if it didn’t have a little roof above its head?
One more thing: this post only applies to copyeditors who copyedit by hand. Most copyeditors use track changes in Word. See a screenshot below for an example of changes that were made by hand. If you prefer one format over the other, be sure to let us know, and we’ll pair you with a copyeditor who has the same preference.
Handwritten Copyediting Marks
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 2013 and has been updated for accuracy.
Correction Symbols for Editing
Following are editing symbols commonly used by writers and editors.
|incorrect abbreviation||sub||faulty subordination|
|ad||adjective/adverb confusion||var||sentence variety|
|agr||subject/verb agreement||vb||error in verb form|
|awkward style||wc||poor word choice|
|ca||pronoun case||wr||write out word|
|comp||faulty comparison||ww||wrong word|
|cs||comma splice||. / ? / !||insert punctuation|
|dm||dangling modifier||,||insert comma|
|fs||fused or run on sentence||:|
|glos||see glossary||"||insert quote marks|
|gr||obvious grammatical error||'||insert apostrophe|
|lev||inappropriate level of usage: too colloquial or too fancy|
|log||faulty logic||... / () /  /||insert punctuation|
|mm||misplaced modifier||//||faulty parallelism|
|pass||awkward use of passive verb|||||separate words|
|p||error in punctuation||/||do not capitalize|
|ref||faulty pronoun reference||x||careless error|
|rep||undesirable repetition||?||illegible or unclear|
|r-o||run-on or fused sentence|