How to understand my editing

Editors and proofreaders all work ever so slightly differently, especially when working with Word documents. Here is a quick guide to what all the marks on your manuscript mean. If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, is confusing, or you are unsure of, always ask. I am always happy to answer questions.

All the mark up is achieved by using the Track Changes function within MS Word. Here’s how I have my tracking set up:

Some people prefer to have the revisions inline but I find the red strikethroughs difficult to work with. But that’s down to you and how you work best. If you’ve received an edited manuscript, you can always change how you view those edits to suit your own reading style and preferences.

The image (which is also available as a downloadable PDF file) shows the most common changes and edits that I will make. Here’s what to look out for and what it all means.

The following are all shown in the margin of the document and are, relatively, easy to spot.

Formatting: The balloon tells you what has changed. Here, in the example, I have moved the text from the indent to “full out” which is typical at the start of a new section or chapter. Other examples could include changing to italic or roman text, underlining, or adding indents.

Simple deletion: A word or letter removed.

Suggestions for replacement: Any suggestions for replacement words will be put in square brackets.

New paragraph: This one can be hard to spot. Look closely and you will see a “deleted full stop”.

Feedback, comments and more suggestions: These will all be in comment balloons. Again, suggestions for text will be put in square brackets.

Lowercase to uppercase: Deleted lowercase letter and replaced with capital letter. Works both ways!

Deleted paragraph: Closing two paragraphs into one. Look for this symbol, it’s called a pilcrow and looks like a backwards “P”.

Removed text along with a comment: If a comment is needed, look for two balloons. One with the comment and one to show the deleted text.

Replacement: Here, a comma has been replaced with an “and”. The inserted word is in red (this colour may change on your computer) and the deleted word or punctuation is shown in the margin.

The following three marks are less easy to spot. To help you, there is a line on the left margin.

Inserted word: Inserted words, in this case “a”, is shown underlined and in red.

Inserted punctuation: Inserted punctuation, a full stop and a comma, is shown also underlined and in red.

These are the most common marks you will find. There might be others (moves are sometimes shown in green and double underlined – sometimes just shown as deletion and insertions) and, as always, if there is anything about your edited manuscript that you don’t understand, please feel free to get in touch. I am always happy to answer questions and make sure you get the most out of it.

If you’re not sure if editing is for you, why not try a free sample edit.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Fiction editor and proofreader.

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