How then, should the proofreader give the author his suggestions? How can he say it in such a way that it is clear, succinct, and doesn't require unnecessary extra effort from either party? I've devised a method here that I believe is succinct and clear. Once both parties are aware of and agree on this common notation then they can easily communicate three things about each suggestion:
- Where the offending piece of text occurs in the article
- A suggested replacement piece of text that.
- (Optional) Extra information or comments.
Now suppose we want to give another suggestion. Maybe we like the word don't that think it works here, but we know the original author likes "do not". We can offer another suggestion by using two pipe symbols, ||. This is a common programming symbol know as the logical OR operator. Here we are saying that either of these suggestions could replace the offending word.
I've found that there can be times where I want to explain my suggestions. Sometimes I want to defend my suggestion, and sometimes I want to highlight some specific grammar rule that I have in mind when making the suggestion. Borrowing again from programming, I like to use the double slash to denote the line as a "comment line". The comments can go before the offending piece line or after the last suggestion's line.
It's a very super simple system, and if don't want to use fancy things like MS Word's "with comments" then you might give this a try.