I’ve posted this before, but it gets lost among the other items and it’s a good thing to revisit frequently.
Get in the habit of using a checklist when you are editing. This one is geared toward news editing but works for all types of editing.
You may not actually check things off, but reviewing the list before each session of editing will help you remember the big and small things that are most likely to cause errors.
GERRI BERENDZEN’S COPY EDITOR CHECKLIST
- Does the story make sense?
- Are all of the major questions answered?
- Is the story fair? Who or what might be missing?
- Is the background complete enough that all readers will have a sense of relevance?
- Are there any sensitivity issues in either individual word usage or description?
- Do links go to something that is relevant to the story and that answers the questions raised? Are the links from a trusted source of information? Are there any bias issues with the links?
- Are the names correct? Are they spelled the same in every instance? (Check against headlines, cutlines, other display text.)
- Are the ages and dates correct?
- Are the titles correct?— check for people, but also for businesses, institutions, books, works of art, etc.
- Are the locations, addresses correct?
- Did you check the phone numbers against directories or call the numbers?
- DID YOU DO THE MATH?
- Did you check website URLs to make sure they work?
- Did you check the links to make sure they work?
Grammar and spelling
- Did you do a spell check. (1A: Have you checked the spelling of any foreign words.)
- Did you check major grammar points: subject-verb agreement, pronoun use, antecedents, parallel construction?
- Did you check word usage?
- Is the headline accurate and balanced?
- Have you checked the headline, cutlines and display type against the story copy?