Editing and Proofreading Marks in Composition

Proofreading marks on typed paper about Macbeth
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When your instructor returns a composition, are you sometimes puzzled by the abbreviations and symbols that appear in the margins? If so, this guide should help you decipher those marks during the editing and proofreading stages of the writing process.

Common Proofreading Marks Explained

The following proofreading marks have a brief explanation of the definition your instructor is likely trying to convey for your revisions.

ab: Abbreviation (Use a standard abbreviation or write out the word in full.)

ad: Adjective or adverb (Use the correct form of the modifier.)

agr: Agreement (Use the correct ending to make the verb agree with its subject.)

awk: Awkward expression or construction.

cap: Capital letter (Replace a lowercase letter with a capital letter.)

case: Case (Use the appropriate case of the pronoun: subjective, objective, or possessive.)

cliché: Cliché (Replace the worn-out expression with a fresh figure of speech.)

coh: Coherence and cohesion (Make clear connections as you move from one point to the next.)

coord: Coordination (Use coordinating conjunctions to relate equal ideas.)

cs: Comma splice (Replace the comma with a period or a conjunction.)

d: Diction (Replace the word with one that's more precise or appropriate.)

dm: Dangling modifier (Add a word so that the modifier refers to something in the sentence.) 

emph: Emphasis (Restructure the sentence to emphasize a key word or phrase.)

frag: Sentence fragment (Add a subject or verb to make this word group complete.)

fs: Fused sentence (Separate the word group into two sentences.)

gloss: Glossary of usage (Check the glossary to see how to use this word correctly.)

hyph: Hyphen (Insert a hyphen between these two words or word parts.)

inc: Incomplete construction.

irreg: Irregular verb (Check our index of verbs to find the correct form of this irregular verb.)

ital: Italics (Put the marked word or phrase in italics.)

jarg: Jargon (Replace the expression with one your readers will understand.)

lc: Lowercase letter (Replace a capital letter with a lowercase letter.)

mm: Misplaced modifier (Move the modifier so that it clearly refers to an appropriate word.)

mood: Mood (Use the correct mood of the verb.)

nonst: Nonstandard usage (Use standard words and word forms in formal writing.)

org: Organization (Organize information clearly and logically.)

p: Punctuation (Use an appropriate mark of punctuation.)

: colon
, comma
 dash
. period

¶: Paragraph break (Begin a new paragraph at this point.)

//: Parallelism (Express paired words, phrases, or clauses in grammatically parallel form.)

pro: Pronoun (Use a pronoun that refers clearly to a noun.)

run-on: Run-on (fused) sentence (Separate the word group into two sentences.)

slang: Slang (Replace the marked word or phrase with a more formal or conventional expression.)

sp: Spelling (Correct a misspelled word or spell out an abbreviation.)

subord: Subordination (Use a subordinating conjunction to connect a supporting word group to the main idea.)

tense: Tense (Use the correct tense of the verb.)

trans: Transition (Add an appropriate transitional expression to guide readers from one point to the next.)

unity: Unity (Don't stray too far from your main idea.)

v/^: Missing letter(s) or word(s).

#: Insert a space.

wordy: Wordy writing (Cut out unnecessary words.)

ww: Wrong word (Use a dictionary to find a more appropriate word.)