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Proofreader's marks: who uses them?
Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:21
Member (2007)
German to English
Sep 8, 2011

Every style guide and dictionary I look at lists (handwritten) proofreader's marks. Does anyone ever use these or does everyone else do as I do and just use Microsoft Word's change-tracking feature? Someone somewhere must use them, else why would style-guide and dictionary publishers continue to include them in their publications.

 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 21:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I don't Sep 8, 2011

I don´t use them and don´t recall having seen anybody or heard about anybody using them in the last 5 years at least.

It sound like something from another age, another life... long long time ago.icon_smile.gif


 

Rosa Plana Castillón
Spain
Local time: 02:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not so long ago Sep 8, 2011

I work for several publishing houses and we do use them when checking the final proofs of a book (which comes usually in printed format). Actually, right now I'm working with a galley full of proofreader's marks!

 

Fernanda Rocha  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:21
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
AFAIK,... Sep 8, 2011

These marks are commonly used by revisers who work for publishing houses, for example (at least here in Brazil).

Depending on the job, they can be really helpful. If you know the "codes" and you see a printed text with those marks (for example, if you are the second proofreader, or the translator who received the revised text for a final look), you do not need to guess what the other person did... in this case, you have a pattern.

IMHO, it's great to use/see them when you are dealing with printed files.icon_smile.gif

Fernandaicon_smile.gif


 

Gail Bond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:21
Member (2009)
French to English
I do Sep 8, 2011

I used to work for Collins-Robert, where I was taught to mark up page proofs with proofreader's marks. Years later, I still use them, because it comes as second nature and it's much neater than writing instructions in longhand. Although it's now years since I left Collins, I have continued to use them in other companies I have worked for; I have always 'taught' those around me to understand them and have found that, in general, people prefer these marks once they get used to them as it avoids ambiguity caused by having to read people's handwriting.

It's also much quicker and easier to write the symbols for 'delete', 'transpose' etc rather than writing them longhand, and keeps proofs neater and tidier.

All this only applies to proofreading hard copies, of course.

They may belong to something from another age or another life... but I love these funny little squiggles and will continue to use them until I'm told otherwiseicon_smile.gif


 

jacana54 (X)  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
Recently... Sep 8, 2011

the client used these marks to edit the original document. I received a scanned version in PDF and made the corresponding changes in the Spanish translation.

It was fun, actually.


 

Laurie Price  Identity Verified
Mexico
Spanish to English
+ ...
I even taught them professionally -- Sep 8, 2011

When I lived in New york City I worked in the financial sector as a proofreader and later as an editor. I worked with hard copy -- as I had years before as a legal proofreader. Documents generally made the rounds between operators and proofreaders for several cycles before being finalized. These were company presentations, Powerpoint company & market analyses, graphs and charts, etc.

After working within the same industry for a few years I taught Proofreading intensives since there was a huge market for proofreaders in the financial industry at that time -- with 3 work shifts going 24 hours -- I worked 'the graveyard' shift for several years -- and a large part of what I taught was hows to use the marks and especially, all the shortcuts you could come up with by being familiar with all of the marks so that marked-up documents were still fairly clean-looking and legible.

Between legal and financial I worked at newspapers -- as a proofreader and as a copy editor, though these days no newspapers hire proofreaders -- something that's noticeable.

In publishing, proofreaders' marks are essential -- they're the language between printers and editors and proofreaders. They're quite ingenious actually.


 

JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 20:21
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I use them regularly... Sep 9, 2011

...when correcting student assignments and theses. At the beginning of the semester I teach some of the most important ones to the class. It saves a lot of time, and allows me to correct papers while on the train, in the dentist's waiting room, etc.

They are especially helpful for theses, when I need a hard copy during the defense in addition to the version with Word's marginal comment balloons that I email the student. If you've ever tried to sit in a meeting with a printout of a document with comments (and if your eyes are anywhere near as old as mine), you know the value of a full-sized hard copy with some quick proofreader's marks along with your own personal shorthand to remind you of points you need to discuss.

As a teacher, I don't like to use track changes, because it's all too easy for a student to simply accept all the changes without analysis, and learn nothing in the process. Even my clients (the few to whom I offer editing services) appreciate my fuller explanations instead of simple corrections. I realize that my clients are a rare bunch!

Don't get me wrong; I think tracking changes is a great invention and I can see why most would prefer it to manual proofreading.


Jane


 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:21
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Edits? Yep, All the Time Sep 9, 2011

I took proofreading courses back in 1998, after I had discovered proofreading a few years before, when I was asked to amend the promotional materials created by the design firm I was working for at the time.
These days, much as I like the track-changes function on my pc, I still hand-proofread, and not just professionally. I do work on the .pdf dummies of books, catalogues and journals, and still enjoy it. But I am so used to using the UNI-standard proofreaders' marks, that I always keep a sharp pencil handy when I'm reading for my own pleasure. Invariably all my books bear a list of my edits on their blank leaves, and I confess there are occasions when I even contact the publisher to complain if typos are more than I can bear.
Manual proofreading is something that sticks with you, and once you get the bug, there is no turning back.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not... Sep 9, 2011

Not since Churchill learned to handwrite.

Review marks features in Microsoft Office and later editing marks in Adobe Acrobat have made handwritten marks a thing of the past. Nobody would want us to use marks on paper and then scan the paper to send it back.

Edited to add this: Well, seeing other colleagues' replies, clearly I was wrong. Maybe it is just my customers who would never think of handwritten marks...

[Edited at 2011-09-09 05:58 GMT]


 

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:21
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Additional issues surrounding proofreader's marks Sep 9, 2011

Honestly, I'm surprised to find that so many people use proofreader's marks. The replies raised several other questions about them:

What can you express with proofreader's marks that you can't express using Microsoft Word's change tracking feature, and vice versa?
Is it necessary to print documents, mark them, and then scan the marked documents, or are there ways to electronically mark a document with proofreader's marks?
How many translation agencies or their customers would understand or accept documents marked with proofreader's marks rather than change tracking?
According to R.M. Ritter, The Oxford Guide to Style (Oxford: OUP, 2002), p. 56: 'Two marking systems are in current use. The first is espoused in BS 1259 and 5261 Part 2: 1976 and supplements. The second, which pre-dates it, is the main system used in the USA.' Which system do you use and why?


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:21
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Me too! Sep 9, 2011

Rosa Plana Castillón wrote:

I work for several publishing houses and we do use them when checking the final proofs of a book (which comes usually in printed format). Actually, right now I'm working with a galley full of proofreader's marks!


 

Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 21:21
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Outdated Sep 9, 2011

I agree with Tomas. I first answered the question above understanding it as what we do in our regular jobs as proofreaders.

However, most of the answers that came after mine refer to what they used to do (past), or to book publishing, working onsite on daily newspapers and correcting the gallies, or to teaching and correcting students' papers.

I don't use those marks nor print and correct on paper on my regular tasks for the regular proofreading clients on the web. Furthermore, no client as ever asked or suggested that to me.
Even more, nowadays people try to be more environment friendly and don't print or use paper unless it is strictly necessary.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Slightly off topic... Sep 9, 2011

... But I can't resist the temptation to link to this thread that has just been revived today.

Scroll down to the last post to see the link - apparently the original one does not work any more.

http://www.proz.com/forum/proofreading_editing_reviewing/187661-a_little_laugh_for_those_of_us_who_edit_and_proofread:.html

BTW I learned the official BS marks in the 1970s and still use them when proofreading my own texts.

Paper, either recycled or from managed forests, is a sustainable resource, and it makes an enormous difference to the number of sentences I re-formulate and the typos I catch... and thus the quality of my work!

Happy proofreading!


 

kalap (X)
I use them Sep 9, 2011

When someone sends me printed material to be corrected. The last time was last year, for a book I translated, 1 kg of paper which came by snail mail.

When the text is in Word, of course I don't use them, this would be ridiculous. But often I don't use track changes neither: I have clients who don't like them or who don't know how to use them. In that case, I make corrections and highlight the corrected words.

Please note that Adobe, in his full version, and some other PDF-readers too, have a comparable feature (insert post-its). This is far more irritating and time-consuming than proofreading on paper.


 
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