Proofreader’s Marks

Years ago, as editor of a local monthly chemical society publication, I would mark corrections for each issue on galley proofs and return them to the printer by driving into Wilmington late at night on deserted streets. About a week later, I would do the same with the page proofs.  Of course, today all of this would be done by email.

The type was set by a huge, greasy Linotype machine the size of a Volkswagen that cast each word in a lead slug and dropped them into trays called “galleys.” The printer would arrange them into lines, ink each galley with a hand roller, and press paper on top to make two proof copies that were returned to the editor (me).  One copy was to mark the corrections, the other was to cut up with scissors and paste into pages with the masthead, headlines and ads.  The ads were supplied as pre-made blocks containing the company’s own photos, drawings, and distinctive type font.  This is probably how our 1954 yearbook was done.

My older sister was editor of our school newspaper, the Garnet & Gray in 1951If she were still alive, I would like to ask her how they did it.

Like most Linotypes, it was housed in a dark cellar-like room, run by a sweaty guy in thick glasses and a dirty sleeveless undershirt. A goose-neck lamp shined on the keyboard.  The press was in the same dark room.  It, too, was loud and ugly.  Yet, miraculously, out of all this chaos of heat, and grease, and noise, and yelling, and sweat, and darkness, there emerged the most beautiful, pristine printing.  I can easily imagine stacks of our yearbooks coming from such a process.

I was warned by the printer to catch the errors on the galley proofs where the changes were easy to make.  Marking any but the most egregious errors on the page proofs would strain our relationship.  He correctly assumed all of those errors would be mine, not his.

Recently I found this Xerox copy of proofreader’s marks at the bottom of a file drawer. Printing is no longer done with lead slugs, but the method of marking corrections may still be useful. The principle is to put the corrections in the margins where they will be easily seen and only mark the interior with a cross-out or a caret to show where they apply. Each correction is ended with a slash to separate multiple corrections.

Proofreader's Marks

Proofreader’s Marks (click to enlarge)

I have no idea where it came from, but it was obviously from some chemical publication.  Note the unusual delete mark that I became very familiar with.

About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in History, Writers and Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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