Proofreaders' and Teachers' Correction Marks

Illustration of hand writing proofreading correction marks on paper


Dmitry Volkov/Getty Images 

Confused about the teacher's squiggly marks on your paper? This list of correction marks includes the most common proofreader marks you'll see on your paper drafts. Be sure to make these corrections before turning in your final draft.

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Proofreading mark for spelling error

Grace Fleming

The "sp" on your paper means there is a spelling error. Check your spelling, and don't forget about commonly confused words. These are words like effect and affect that your spell check won't catch.

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Proofreading mark for capitalization issue

Grace Fleming

If you see this notation on your paper, you have a capitalization error. Check to see if you have put the first letter of a proper noun in lower case. It's a good idea to read over a guide to capitalization rules if you see this mark often.

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Awkward Phrase

Proofreading mark for awkward wording

 Grace Fleming

The "awk" indicates a passage that seems clunky and awkward. If the teacher marks a passage as awkward, you know that they stumbled over your words during their review and became confused about your meaning. In the next draft of your paper, be sure to rework the phrase for clarity.

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Insert Apostrophe

Proofreading mark for insert an apostrophe

Grace Fleming 

You will see this mark if you've omitted a necessary apostrophe. This is another mistake that the spell checker won't catch. Review the rules for apostrophe use and revise your paper accordingly.

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Insert Comma

Proofreading mark for add a comma

 Grace Fleming

The teacher will use this mark to indicate that you should insert a comma between two words. Comma rules can be quite tricky, so it's important to review the rules of comma usage before you submit your final draft.

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Begin New Paragraph

Proofreading mark for add a new paragraph

 Grace Fleming

This mark indicates that you need to begin a new paragraph in a certain location. When you revise your paper, be sure to rework your format so that you begin a new paragraph each time you complete one point or thought and begin a new one.

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Remove Paragraph

Proofreading mark for no new paragraph

 Grace Fleming

Sometimes we make the mistake of starting a new paragraph before we complete our message or point. Teachers will use this mark to indicate that you should not start a new paragraph at a particular point. If you are having difficulty with how to divide your paper correctly, it might be helpful to read over some tips for writing effective transition sentences.

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Proofreading mark for delete

Grace Fleming 

The "delete" symbol is used to indicate that a character, word, or phrase should be deleted from your text. Wordiness is a common problem for writers, but one you can overcome with practice. When you omit unnecessary words, you make your writing crisper and more direct. Practice reading your paper over a few times before you submit to see if you can make your point more effectively with fewer words.

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Insert a Period

Proofreading mark for insert a period

 Grace Fleming

Sometimes we omit a period accidentally, but other times we jam sentences together in error. Either way, you will see this mark if the teacher wants you to end a sentence and insert a period at a specific point.

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Insert Quotation Marks

Proofreading mark for add quotation marks

 Grace Fleming

If you forget to enclose a title or a quote within quotation marks, your teacher will use this symbol to mark the omission. There are specific guidelines regarding quotation mark usage, and it's helpful to review these from time to time to ensure that you are using quotation marks correctly.

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Proofreading mark for transpose

 Grace Fleming

To transpose means to switch around. It's really easy to type ei when we mean "ie" — or make some similar error when typing. This squiggly mark means you need to switch around some letters or words.

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Move Right (or Left)

Proofreading mark for move right

 Grace Fleming

Spacing errors can occur when formatting a bibliography or indenting text. If you see a mark like this one, it indicates you should move your text to the right. A bracket open to the right indicates that you should move your text to the left.

Seeing Lots of Red Marks?

It's easy for students to feel disappointed and deflated when their first draft comes back all marked up with proofreading marks. However, a large number of correction marks on a paper is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, the teacher is so enthusiastic about the great work they're reading that they wants to help the student make it perfect. Don't let proofreading marks on a first draft get you down. After all, it's the final draft that matters.

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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Proofreaders' and Teachers' Correction Marks." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Fleming, Grace. (2021, February 16). Proofreaders' and Teachers' Correction Marks. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Proofreaders' and Teachers' Correction Marks." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).