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Editing Checklist: The Basics

Editing isn’t just about checking spelling, grammar and punctuation – even though they’re super important. There are a clutch of other things you need to check too.

When you edit, you want to make sure your writing is accurate, brief and clear, and that it achieves the purpose for which you are writing.

So here’s a short checklist – by no means exhaustive – of some of the basics you need to have in place:

* Are all names (including your own) spelled correctly?
* Is the date correct?
* Are the page numbers correct? Do they agree with the contents page if you have one?
* Are the sub-headings consistent in terms of style and typeface?
* Have you eliminated the unnecessary? (Content and language)
* Did you get to the point early?
* Does the text flow logically?
* Are the sentences short (one verb only) and simple?
* Have you changed the passive voice to the active voice?
* Have you checked grammar and spelling, and re-checked after making any changes?
* Are any graphs or calculations correct?

Numbers are particularly tricky, as it’s easy to transpose numbers when you’re entering them: check every, single one. And even names can be a problem – I’ve seen people mistype their own names, or spell someone’s name several different ways.

Finally, when you proofread, always read a clean copy of the whole document – don’t just check that particular corrections have been done. Often errors are introduced during the correction process, so you do need to read the whole thing again.

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