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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Commonly Used Proofreading Symbols with Examples

Despite widespread use of software for writing and publishing, there are some cases in which knowing traditional proofreading symbols is recommended or required. This is especially true in the publishing industry.

Below is a list of some commonly used proofreading symbols. However, keep in mind that different editors will use variations of these and/or others that are not listed here.

New paragraph here

New Paragraph Symbol

New Paragraph Symbol Example

This symbol denotes that the writer should begin a new paragraph wherever the symbol is placed. Particularly for pages containing extensive dialogue, starting a new paragraph is necessary to help the reader visually follow the flow of the narrative without the author implicitly stating who is speaking.

Delete; take out something

Delete Symbol

Delete Symbol Example

When a letter, word or clause should be deleted, the delete symbol is used and should be written over the element to be removed.

Close up space

Close Up Space Symbol

Close Up Space Symbol Example

A proofreader in the publishing industry will look at the "proof", or printed copy of the publication, to check for errors. If there are spaces too wide that need to be closed, this symbol is used.

Transpose elements

Transpose Elements Symbol

Transpose Elements Symbol Example

It's easy for a writer to accidentally put words in the wrong order, which is why this sign is used to show elements should be transposed (or switched around).

Insert whatever is written above or below the proofreading symbol

Insert Symbol

Insert Symbol Example

When content is to be inserted, use this symbol along with whatever element should be inserted above or below it.

Insert en dash

Insert En Dash Symbol

Insert En Dash Symbol Example

The en dash is wider than a hyphen but narrower than the em dash and should be used between dates.

Insert em dash

Insert Em Dash Symbol

Insert Em Dash Symbol Example

The em dash can take the place of commas, parentheses, or colons and is a highly versatile punctuation mark. Considered less formal than parentheses, a pair of em dashes can be used to draw attention to the text within them without disrupting the flow of the sentence.

Move left

Move Left Symbol

Move Left Symbol Example

This proofreading symbol means the the content should be moved left. Note that the symbol should be as long as the lines of content to be moved.

Move right

Move Right Symbol

Move Right Symbol Example

This symbol means that the content should be moved right. As with the above symbol, this one should be as long as the lines of content to be moved.

Make italics

Make Italics Symbol

Make Italics Symbol Example

In most style guides, italics are used for book titles and other published material. This symbol means to change the word(s) to italics.

Change to capital letter(s)

Capital Letter(s) Symbol

Capital Letter(s) Symbol Example

If a word should have a capital letter, or multiple capital letters, this symbol is used.

Align vertically

Align Vertically Symbol

Align Vertically Symbol Example

This symbol means the content should be aligned vertically.

Align horizontally

Align Horizontally Symbol

Align Horizontally Symbol Example

This symbol is used to note when content should be aligned horizontally.

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