Editor S Correction Symbols On Essays


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 abbreviationsubfaulty subordination
absttoo abstracttrans transition
adadjective/adverb confusionvarsentence variety
agrsubject/verb agreementvberror in verb form


awkward stylewcpoor word choice
capronoun casewrwrite out word
compfaulty comparisonwwwrong word
cscomma splice. / ? / !insert punctuation
dmdangling modifier,insert comma


fragment;insert semi-colon
fsfused or run on sentence:

insert colon

glossee glossary"insert quote marks
grobvious grammatical error'insert apostrophe 
levinappropriate level of usage: too colloquial or too fancy


insert hyphen
logfaulty logic... / () / [] /insert punctuation
mmmisplaced modifier//faulty parallelism
passawkward use of passive verb
|separate words
perror in punctuation/do not capitalize
reffaulty pronoun referencexcareless error
repundesirable repetition?illegible or unclear
r-orun-on or fused sentence
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