Editing Checklists and Resources for Writers

I love writing. I hate editing. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel the same. To attempt to untangle my piles of letters and punctuation into some kind of order, I put together an editing checklist. As I am an article writer, it is predominantly aimed at that work. However, you are welcome to take the concept and adapt it to your needs as you see fit. There are no copyright concerns.

For a list of editing symbols which you can use to mark up printed copies of your work, please visit these web sites:

I have found that I don’t always see mistakes on the computer screen, but if I print my work out, then the mistakes become visible. Leave yourself a two inch margin on the left hand side and double space your work so you can write in revisions.

Formal Reference Sources

If you need further help, can I recommend two sources. The first is the Elements of Style by William Strunk Jnr. I know it’s not riveting reading, but it keeps you on track. You can get the full text online at: http://www.bartleby.com/141/

My other suggestion is to find a style guide you like and stick to it! Organisations I have worked for had particular style guides, which were developed by a local University. Style guides set specific rules on points such as how numbers are presented; whether you type e-mail or email and if you do or do not place a comma after the word ‘and’ (which in case you were wondering, I don’t do, as the style guides have me firmly on track.) Those rules are adhered to for all writing. There is no variance in approach, whatever the project: you know where you stand! If you are in the United States, The Harvard Style Guide is here: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/lib/researchhelp/harvard_style.html there is also an excellent one at Wadsworth.com, which is where the tiny url link to editing symbols came from. It’s comprehensive! Click here.

If you want to know what is acceptable in your part of the world, check the University web sites in your area of the globe.

Good luck!

Cate’s Editing Checklist

Project Name: Project Date:
Sentences too long?
Sentences make sense?
Impact on reader – imagine you’re receiving it
Clarity – easy to understand?
Complete sentences?
Familiar words – jargon check, hard to understand?
Plain English boring or needs a Thesaurus?
Gender inclusive language – politically correct
Short paragraphs or hard to read?
Headings where they are needed?
Correct format for publisher?
Attractive layout – want to read further?
Whitespace used for readability or cluttered?
Consistency in fonts, headings etc. re: font size?
Legal and ethical content?
Appropriate to goals and plans as a writer ?
Style conventions – number, format, abbreviations
Capital letter consistency – including headings and bullets
Cliches – too many or makes it approachable?
Name spelling, if relevant, is it correct?
Title consistency
Captions on photos – names correct, consistent
Page numbers – sequential and correct on contents
Contents page – matches the headings exactly
Copyright and source citations included and updated

If you’d like additional sources of help, please see the Story and Character Tracking Forms To Make Life Easier post from June. http://cateartios.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/forms/

This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

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