What are the proofreader's marks for widows and orphans?
March 29, 2013 6:35 PM   Subscribe

What is the proper way to mark widows and orphans while proofreading a text using the Chicago Manual of Style's format?

Usually when I have a proofreading job, I just write "orphan" or "widow" alongside the line in question. I really should know already if this practice is correct or not, but I'm basically self-taught and previous managing editors have not made an issue of my quirks. I have a new editor and want to make sure everything I do is correct. Thank you for your help.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
CMS actually doesn't specify, as far as I know. CMS 16, 2.113, "Checking overall appearance," merely defines the terms, and they aren't illustrated in Fig. 2.6, "Proofreaders' Marks," or Fig. 2.7, "Marked Proofs."

That said, I would write the word alongside the line in question and circle it, as you do with any instructions to the typesetter.

I'd HIGHLY recommend getting a copy of CMS or subscribing online. You are bound to come up with more questions that only that tome can answer for you. And if you're not sure about how to mark orphans and widows and are self-taught, there may be other marks that CMS does specify that you've been doing wrong. For some editors, it's no biggie, but others want to see everything by the book.
posted by nevers at 6:53 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've always used w or o inside a circle.
posted by rtha at 7:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, "widow" or "orphan" inside a circle next to the line in question.
posted by scody at 9:15 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I typeset books for a living, and I have always seen proofreaders just write widow or orphan next to the (circled) line in question. One thing you can do is ask for the house style guide – I often end up ignoring those notes because $publisher allows say, a 3/4 line widow,* and I award bonus points** to proofreaders who are aware of that.

* not actually a widow if the house style guide allows it!

** my managing editor, who is the person who actually hires the proofreaders, does not care about my bonus points
posted by (Over) Thinking at 9:33 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

There is no official way to mark a lot of things. A circled flag always works great. If you want editors and compositors to love you, opt for clarity over some esoteric mark.
posted by Camofrog at 11:54 PM on March 30, 2013

« Older Pitchy sometimes??   |   When should I launch? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.