Should technical editors use the full set of proofreader’s marks in marking up content? How many of the standard proofreader’s marks do we even know any more? Back in the day of hardcopy editing, I think many of these marks carried over into the copyeditor and technical editor tools. However, as we started doing more and more of our editing online, in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, we learned to make do with what those tools provided. We adapted our marks to what was provided. Or, so I thought.
Adrienne Montgomerie recently posted an article to the Copyediting newsletter titled “The Secret Code of Proofreaders” (with the title cleverly including many of the proofreader’s marks). I learned that there are a set of stamps that you can import into Adobe Reader to use to make many more of these marks. I actually thought about downloading and playing around with some of these stamps. But then, Montgomerie also asked the question about whether designers will understand these marks and know what changes are required.
Update October 16, 2014:
My Twitter feed shared this post about proofreader’s marks this morning by Louise Harnby, which introduces and defends the value of the marks and their continued use.
As a technical editor working with very overworked technical writers, I must say that I rely on two of the marks that Adobe Acrobat provide in their reviewing tools: insertion and deletion (although that has become just strikethrough, without the tail on the end). Then, I use the comment bubbles associated with those marks or I insert text bubbles to put my queries and comments next to the place where I want to suggest a change. I think my writers would rebel if I required them to learn (or relearn) some of the standard proofreader’s marks, such as transpose or word break or line break. It is quicker and simpler for both of us to have me just insert a comment that explains that something is two words or that letters or words need to be transposed. Space was at a premium on paper, but not so in digital pages!
Happy editing everyone!