What To Do Now That Your Writing Has Been Proofread (& Possibly Edited)

If you are having you documents proofread you may find this set of instructions useful.

It is important to distinguish a “light” proofreading from a thorough editing and re-write. Generally I read a manuscript in at least 3 steps: first, I read “to receive”, uncritically, what the author is trying to say. Then I read to correct the obvious. Then I reread to look for “what’s missing,” and larger issues of structure and audience. In other words, I do the ‘easy’ work first.

Standard proofreader’s marks can be found here:


My marks fall into several categories. The majority will be obvious typos, spelling corrections, scanning artifacts, etc. Other marks will fall into the realm of ‘editorial license’, e.g., optional commas or inserting a period (.) or semicolon. Another type of mark will be a simple question mark (?) meaning that I don’t understand the sentence or the word.

You may want to make the edit inputs yourself; or you may mark the edits you approve, and allow me to make the edit inputs.

I suggest that you go thru the manuscript with three colors of high-lighters: use green for the edits you agree (or input); red for those you disagree (i.e., leave as-is), and yellow for the few you might want to discuss further.

Use “search and replace” in the correct sequence

If you want to make the edit inputs yourself, be sure to use search and replace. In MSWord (PC) these commands are available in the edit menu. Use search and replace for changes throughout the entire document, such as replacing two spaces with one space (repeat as necessary!), and changing a double-dash (--) into an em-dash (–) You can be sure to add leading and trailing spaces first, before replacing all double spaces with single spaces. Be sure to save a copy of your document especially before you do a global search-and-replace in case it has unexpected consequences (ctrl-Z “undo” works, too). You may type directly into the “search” and “replace with” boxes, but sometimes it’s easier to paste from the document. Some special characters are available, such as “^p” for “paragraph break” and “^s” for “space”. If the document has been improperly formatted to begin with, e.g., using spaces instead of indents or tabs, then you may need to proceed cautiously, and / or do reformatting.

In any case, ideally someone should then check to confirm the edits were done correctly and no new errors were introduced.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.



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