Deleting Stuff

by Heather

Proofreaders’ Marks

Unwanted letters, words, and punctuation can seem to crop up out of nowhere when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s just that I’ve realized I don’t really need that sentence or word, and sometimes it’s my errant fingers typing things without permission. You know, like when you arrive somewhere but can’t remember the drive.

In any case, it’s often necessary to strike a letter, word, or sentence from our writing, and we do that with the deletion mark:


The curly bit on the end is important—it’s what keeps these marks from being mistaken for other proofreading marks. So, all you need to do is cross out your word with a flourish and your done, right?

Well, actually you’re probably not done, and that’s because when we delete letters  we usually want to delete the spaces they were occupying, too. (Remember my Marking Spaces post and how spaces are as real as ink on the printed page?) If you remove the word thing from a document you probably don’t want to leave behind the 5 extra spaces. So here’s how you can combine your curly deletion symbol from above with the close-it-up symbol (which looks like sideways parentheses):


And here’s how the delete and close-it-up symbol looks when it’s in action:

That red pencil still burning a hole in your pocket protector? You can find a full listing of all the Word Blog’s Proofreaders’ Marks entries here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather July 26, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Thanks, Laura! I’m sure your markup is delightfully legible and logical. After all, real-life editing happens in that sensible space somewhere between logocratic rules and verbal anarchy, right? And it’s true; the inputters certainly are clever folks who can intuit most of our intentions. Thanks for reading!

Laura July 25, 2009 at 11:42 am

I admit to being somewhat willy-nilly with my close-up marks. Part of me still can’t help thinking that the PC inputter should realize I don’t want ten blank spaces in the middle of a sentence. They’re probably just wishing I’d be consistent.

Great blog!

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