View Full Version : Learn your marks!

Cathy C
12-16-2005, 04:53 AM
Okay, I'm double posting this (it also appears over on the Writing Novels forum), but I think it's important enough to repeat over here:

I just realized that experienced authors often forget to give newbies one vital piece of advice. Each and every aspiring author needs to take the time to learn a brand new language -- that of proofreader's marks!

I just spent the last week locked into a particularly nasty version of author's hell. The publisher hired a freelance copyeditor (fairly common with both small and big houses), who DIDN'T UNDERSTAND PROPER PROOFREADER'S MARKS! Why is this so critical? Well, because the author is expected to review the "copy edited" version of the manuscript, where the copyeditor has made corrections directly on the face of the manuscript pages. The editor gives the copyeditor a "final" manuscript, which is then checked for grammar, punctuation and spelling. The author is expected to review the proposed changes and accept or reject them -- all on deadline that CANNOT be moved if you don't want to lose your publication slot.

But unless an author understands what s/he is seeing when the copyedits arrive, it will look very much like Greek!

Now, in my case, the copyeditor apparently did not realize that italicized text appears on the copyedit manuscript as underscored text. In other words, this will look like this on the page. So, the copyeditor (and I don't know if it was male or female) REMOVED every instance of underscoring. If I hadn't understood the language of what s/he was doing, I would have ended up with page proofs without any emphasized speech -- ANYWHERE!

So, here's a JPEG of the standard proofreader's marks from the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. It's also available in the Chicago Manual of Style and other style guides.

http://img179.imageshack.us/img179/5859/proofreadersmarks0hh.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Learn it and live by it, so you don't die by it! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

12-16-2005, 06:04 AM
I took a course way back and learn these and more... but actually all my editors seem to use the track changes function in Word now ;)

Cathy C
12-16-2005, 06:58 PM
Oh, my EDITOR does too. But even with my small press book, there was a copy edit phase between the content edits and galley stage. Someday that might change, but for the moment, it's still an issue. :)

12-16-2005, 11:58 PM
I'm so going to bookmark this thread. I can see myself now, (hypothetically, of course since I don't even have an agent yet) looking at those marks and thinking, But...but...I never studied Hyrogliphics! Oy.