What Is an Editing Checklist?

What Is an Editing Checklist?

The post-writing phase can be as intimidating as when you start writing your story. Part of that has to do with the pressure to make sure your work is perfect. That’s why writers employ the help of editors.

It’s also the reason why they try their hand at self-editing with tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly. However you choose to go about the editing process, you will need an editing checklist to ensure things go smoothly. So, what’s there to know about this type of checklist?

The Editing Checklist

Through a good editing checklist, you can edit content for blogs and other pieces efficiently. It also helps you produce work that resonates with your audience and helps them gain value from it.

1. Words You Rely on Too Often

It’s common to see those less experienced in the writing craft depend too much on specific words and turns of phrase. In most instances, these writers aren’t even relying on these elements on purpose, so they fall into the same trap again and again.

To make the editing phase less of a burden on your editor, you want to identify these go-to words and avoid them as much as possible. This gives your writing more color and variety. It also widens your vocabulary, which will only benefit your future creative endeavors even more.

One effective way to pinpoint crutch words is to reread your old stuff. Do you find similarities in how you start or end these pieces? Do you structure sentences in a similar fashion? If your answer is yes to both these questions, you clearly have crutches you need to eliminate.

2. Business Entities Should Be Singular

These days, people communicate predominantly through virtual writing. This has resulted in the said writing style becoming more conversational, which has both its upsides and downsides.

One benefit is that content becomes relatable to a wider range of audiences. However, it is also influenced easily by people’s flawed speech, particularly concerning the addressing of companies.

It’s important to keep in mind, particularly for business writers, that businesses are not people. A business is considered a single entity separate from its owners and should, therefore, be addressed as “it.”

Where conversational writing is concerned, some authors tend to refer to these organizations as “they,” but such is incorrect. Remember that a conversational tone is never an excuse for inaccuracies.

3. Never Forget Hyphenation

So many inexperienced writers misuse (or fail to use) hyphens. Understandably, the use of these elements is often complicated and circumstantial. Still, the fundamentals should be easy enough to figure out before you begin writing your first draft.

Hyphenation mistakes usually revolve around the use of adjectives. Basically, the rule states that if there are two words describing a subject, these words should be hyphenated. The lack of a hyphen in these instances could so easily change the meaning of a phrase, which might mislead the readers.

However, an exception to the rule would be when adjectives ending in -ly are used. In these cases, hyphens aren’t required since the meaning of the words couldn’t possibly be misunderstood.

4. Serial Commas Are Important

There’s a reason why the AP Style is favored by most writers and editors. Generally, its format for dates, numerical figures, and other pertinent details is just more reliable.

One area it’s not as solid in is providing guidance in the use of serial commas. The guide tells writers to forego these commas, which could keep some readers guessing what you’re trying to say. Always make it a point to use these commas unless there’s a good reason not to, such as in virtual writing scenarios where spacing is limited.

5. “Which” and “That” Are Not Interchangeable

Many writers often think of “that” and “which” as synonymous and, as such, don’t think twice about interchanging them. Unfortunately, that should not be the case.

The reason for this lies in the almost exclusive use of “that” in restrictive clauses, which means it cannot be removed. Conversely, “which” is typically an element of nonrestrictive clauses, meaning its absence doesn’t shift the point of a sentence.

6. Don’t Overdo Repetition

One of the most commonly overlooked mistakes in writing is excessive repetition. You can overdo them in your attempt to put emphasis on important points or bring tempo to your piece. You may also observe these patterns in the way you structure sentences or paragraphs.

Check for redundancy in both the beginning and end of your paragraphs. They aren’t mistakes, essentially, but their unrestricted use can reduce your work’s readability.

Be Your Own Editor

While an editor provides an invaluable contribution to creating foolproof content, there’s no reason the first few editing passes can’t be done by you. By self-editing using the above-mentioned checklist, not only can you make your editor’s job easier, but you can also become a learned writer who doesn’t fall into the typical writing traps.

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