There are 3 main ways to mark up a proof to indicate errors or changes:
1. Marginal marks
These are the classic way to mark up a manuscript. The advantage is that
they are well understood by those involved in the book business. The drawback
is the need for a paper copy and for the changes to be entered manually. In
the era when typesetting was a specialist trade, this system made sense.
If your typescript is corrected in the traditional way on 'hard copy' (i.e.
paper), it will come back to you with the copy editor’s changes marked up and
you can decide whether to implement them or not. If you are self-publishing, you
will then have to input the changes to produce a clean copy. If your work
is being published by a publisher, then the publisher usually gets the
typesetter to input the changes. (See Preparing
If you are correcting the proofs of your book for a publisher, then the
editor will put your corrections and those of the proof-reader onto one set of
proofs. Use the attached proofreader's marks
or electronic proof marks to
understand the corrections which have been marked up.
2. Electronic mark-up
The advantage is that editors and proofreaders can work on screen on a digital
version of the manuscript. The drawback is that it is not very good for layout
as the person working on the script can make the changes without leaving a
trace. If this is the method being used, we would advise you to read through the
manuscript or proofs very carefully to make sure that you are happy with all
It could be argued that there is less chance to control the changes
and check that they are appropriate. There is no standard for electronic
mark-up, so a hybrid
is offered. Electronic mark-up
3. Track Changes and Compare
Most word-processor software offers the facility to
compare two documents.
The advantage is that the writer can see the changes and accept or reject each
one. The drawback is that there must be a high degree of software
compatibility for this to work for the proofreader and for the person checking
If this is the chosen approach, you will get a disk of the
edited manuscript or proofs with the changes marked up. You can use
the track changes facility to check
through the changes on screen and decide which ones to implement.
Preparing for publication provides
some general background on copy editing and proofreading.
Advice for writers lists many other pages
which will help you prepare your work for publication.