Marking Codes

Most of the following symbols are standard proofing symbols. Some come from Professor Mark Jones at Queen’s University, who taught me how to review and grade essays). Marking codes are listed alphabetically after the proofing symbols. Other abbreviations that I might use are listed on a separate page.

The examples come from my imagination or from literature. If an example comes from literature, I give a model parenthetical reference.

Proofing Symbols

\ or # Add a space.

x or Delete.

< > Delete everything inside the angle brackets (unless the essay is about mark-up languages).

[ ] Your marker wishes to comment on the material inside the square brackets. Look for a marginal note or a number directing you to an end-note.

 Join two words or segments.

( ) Close gap; do not leave an extra space between paragraphs.

¶ Paragraph.

Insert a word or phrase.

? Is something missing here? | Doesn’t make sense (see also DMS) | I’m not following the logic here.

“ ” or ‘ ‘  Insert quotation marks, switch double to single, or switch single to double. See rules here.

,       Insert a comma. See page of helpful rules for commas.

Hyphen (-).  Insert a hyphen. See page of helpful rules for hyphens.

Dash.  Insert a dash.  See page of helpful rules for dashes.

🙂      You have made an especially witty or insightful point.

😦       You have committed an egregious error that you should not make at this stage of your education. Likely, you have confused “it’s” and “its.” See POS.

Marking Codes

AGR. Agreement. I will flag the two words that do not agree in number, gender, or case (and sometimes draw an arrow connecting them). There are two main categories of grammatical agreement:

(s-v) Subject-verb agreement.

(n-pr) Noun-pronoun agreement.

APR. Click here for tips for resolving ambiguous pronoun reference issues.

ASL.  Act, scene, and line number.

AWK. Awkwardly phrased. Try reading your sentence aloud to hear how it sounds.


CS. Comma Splice.

DEF. Definition.

DM. Dangling modifier.

DMS. Doesn’t make sense.

DOC. Documentation.

ETC. et cetera.

FP. Faulty parallelism.

FRAG. Sentence fragment.

GEN. Gendered language.

IC. Incomplete comparative expression.

INT. Intensifier.

ital. Italicize.

LC. Lowercase.



MM. Misplaced modifier.

NAR. Narration.

NS. Non-standard English usage.

NUM. Numbers.

OCOxford comma.

POS. Possessive case.

PS/PP. Punctuation spacing or punctuation placement.

PV. Passive voice.

QI. Quotation integration.

QM. Quotation marks.

QP. Quote precisely.


RED. Redundancy.

REP. Repetition.

ROS. Run-on sentence.

SC. Semi-colon.

SI. Split infinitive.

Singular they. Click here for some thoughts on the vexing issue of gendered pronouns and potential solutions.

SN. Says nothing.

SP. Spelling.

SUBJ. Subjunctive.


TC. Title Case.

TE. Textual evidence.


TMI. Too much information.


TS. Topic sentence.


UC. Uppercase.





WR. Writer’s report.

WW.  Wrong word.