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Your Ultimate Editing Checklist

Editing is an important final step in the content you are writing. Sending a document off with content inconsistencies, spelling errors, awkward sentences or missing words can be embarrassing. And it gives the impression that you don’t have the time or care enough about what you are creating to do your best work.

Whether you are writing a blog post, a magazine article, a proposal, or an email, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure that the work you produce is free from errors.

Here is an “editing checklist” you can refer to before clicking send, submit or publish:

  • Take a break between writing and editing. If it’s possible, take some time away from your content before you begin editing it. You’ll be more likely to catch errors if you have fresh eyes.
  • Find a quiet place to edit. Editing takes focus and concentration, so it’s best to be free from distractions. Change locations, turn off your phone, and give your writing the attention that it deserves.
  • Check for complete content. Have you included all of the information you needed to include? If what you’ve written answers the 5 W’s – who, what, when, where and why – you’ve probably got it covered.
  • Paragraph transitions. Does the end of one paragraph lead naturally into the next? If it doesn’t, add a transition sentence, or use a subheading.
  • Sentence structure. Are your sentences so long that you have to take a second breath to finish it? Or are they so short that they sound choppy? Read your sentences out loud to make sure they sound the way you want.
  • Review the paragraph length. Especially if you are writing for the web, you want to make sure your paragraphs are short. No one wants to read a large chunk of text on a computer screen or tablet. If your paragraph has more than one idea, make a separate paragraph for each one.
  • Check for spelling errors. Spell check can help, but don’t rely on it to catch everything. Read your writing backwards – from the last word to the first – so you can more easily see misspelled words.
  • Edit for grammar. Verb tense, subject-verb agreement and comma splices are a few examples of grammar areas you want to focus on.
  • Style. Have you capitalized proper names, abbreviated cities correctly, or written a book title with the proper format? Consult a stylebook for rules if you are unsure.
  • Don’t edit for everything all at once. You’ll be editing for many areas: overall structure, spelling, grammar, content, style, among others. It’s just too much to pay attention to at the same time. Go through your document focusing on one type of error at a time.

Chances are you’ve spent a lot of time writing your content, so take the time to make sure it’s your best effort. Creating content that is consistently error-free will speak volumes about your professionalism and attention to detail.

Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and owner of Line-By-Line. She helps businesses communicate with their customers through website content, blog articles, email marketing campaigns and social media. For more information about Line-By-Line, visit http://line-by-line.us or contact Laurie at laurie@line-by-line.us.

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