FAQs: BSI marks

We are often asked questions about the proofreading BSI marks. Click any of the three most common questions below to see the corresponding answer.

Do I need to know about the proofreading marks to take one of the SfEP's online courses?

Essentially the answer is Yes. For the proofreading courses in particular, you will be at a disadvantage if you do not know how to use the BSI symbols.

Why do you continue to use the proofreading marks when in the 'real world' they are being used less and less?

The answer (also covered by one of our training FAQs) is twofold.

  1. The marks may be used less frequently than they used to be, but they are still used, they are recognised as British and international standards, and it is not unreasonable for a client to expect a proofreader or copy-editor to know about this most basic tool of the trade.
  2. The marks are a very efficient language telling the typesetter precisely what changes to make, with no ambiguity and a minimum of fuss and clutter. This visual 'language' presents complex information simply, and we use it – particularly for the answers to exercises – throughout all our online courses.

How do I find out how to use the proofreading marks so that I can take one of your courses?

Well, you can take a course that explains how the marks are used – perhaps our Proofreading 1: Introduction. But we are asked this question so often that we have put together a downloadable sneak preview (204KB PDF) to show, by giving a few examples, how the proofreading marks are designed to work.

This sneak preview focuses on proofreading. If you are confused about the differences between copy-editing and proofreading, see our FAQs to find out more.

Our workshops and online courses include a free copy of the BSI marks; if you aren’t planning to take a course, you can buy a copy from the SfEP.