The first time you receive your copyedited manuscript, it can be intimidating. It’s as if the codes from The Matrix were regurgitated on to a Word doc. file. So seriously, what do these weird marks strewn all over my beautifully typed pages mean?

The guide below will help serve as a reference for these mysterious copyediting marks. Before you know it, you’ll be deciphering the markings like a pro!

Keep in mind that the logic behind most of these copyediting symbols is simply to make punctuation changes more visible. Who would notice a comma if it didn’t have a little roof above its head?

One more thing: this post only applies to copyeditors who copyedit by hand. Most copyeditors use track changes in Word. See a screenshot below for an example of changes that were made by hand. If you prefer one format over the other, be sure to let us know, and we’ll pair you with a copyeditor who has the same preference.

HANDWRITTEN COPYEDITING MARKS