Where Are the Proofreaders' Marks Located in Microsoft Word?

Written by anne hirsh
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Where Are the Proofreaders' Marks Located in Microsoft Word?
Use Word's inking tools if you need traditional proofreaders' marks. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Microsoft Word does not contain traditional proofreaders' marks within its native programming, but it does have an option called "Track Changes" that will note any edits to a manuscript. You can also add traditional proofreaders' marks manually with Word's inking tools and a pen input device, or you can create an add-in that combines Word's native tools with more traditional proofreading marks. Each method has its own challenges and benefits.

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Track Changes

The "Track Changes" function is located in the "Review" tab of the Office Ribbon in Microsoft Word 2007 and later releases. To turn this feature on, click the "Review" tab and then select the "Track Changes" button in the "Tracking" area. You will not see these proofreading markups unless you have Word set to show them, which it generally does by default. If you have "Track Changes" turned on but do not see marks when you make changes to a document, select "Final: Show Markup" from the drop-down field next to the "Track Changes" button and select each item you want to show from the drop-down field under "Show Markup," such as insertions, deletions and comments. The "Comment" function, also commonly used for proofreading, is also in the "Review" tab.

Inking Tools

Microsoft Word has inking tools for handwriting your proofreaders' marks built into its programming. These tools will not appear unless you have a suitable input device, such as a pen tablet or a tablet PC. To activate the inking tools, plug a pen tablet into a USB port on your computer and follow the device's instructions to install the drivers. Launch Word when the installation is complete and click the "Review" tab. Click "Start Inking" to place Word in the pen input mode. You may need a list of proofreaders' marks to let you know which marks to use, as these are not part of Word's programming. You can also use inking with the "Comment" function. This is also located in the "Review" tab, and will only activate when you have a pen input device active on your computer.


Word allows advanced users to create custom add-ins to the Office Ribbon. You can create your own add-in with proofreaders' marks if you are comfortable with programming. Gregory Maxey, a former MS Word MVP, offers a free tutorial for intermediate users to create an add-in for proofreading tools. Once you create your add-in, click the "File" tab or Office button and select "Options," and then "Customize Ribbon." Use the interface there to add your proofreading marks to the "Add-Ins" tab. This tab will appear in the Office Ribbon once it has content, such as your proofreading add-in.


For most users, the built-in "Track Changes" function is the best way to mark up a document during proofreading. Customisation features for this function are located under "Change Tracking Options" in the drop-down menu on the "Track Changes" button. You can use these options to assign specific colours to certain proofreaders or alter the way your changes appear, such as having specific colours for formatting changes, or whether Word crosses out deletions or places them in the margins.

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