Editing and proofreading are the two essential parts of the writing process. They together make your work look professional and enhance the clarity of your ideas and visions. Editing enables you to improve your writing, while proofreading is a final check to achieve perfection before publishing.
A lot of people think that editing and proofreading jobs involve only correcting spelling and fixing grammatical errors, but it entails much more than that. There are several important things you need to check for when editing and proofreading a document. To make it easy for you, we have put together a complete editing and proofreading checklist.
First, you need to check that your content topic or subject aligns with your content strategy and audience. To do so, you should ask yourself the following questions.
- Is your content topic relevant to your industry?
- Will your audience relate to it?
- Is the central argument of your content clear?
- Are there sufficient proofs and examples given to support your points?
- Have you addressed all the major elements of your subject?
A good title makes all the difference in the world. It entices people to start reading your content. Therefore, make sure your title is informative, compelling, and reflects the content within. Also, keep your audience in mind when drafting your headline.
Consider the following points when editing and proofreading your title.
- Choose the right capitalization style for your headings and subheadings (use our free tool). Use title case for primary headings and sentence case for subheadings.
- Keep your titles brief and concise, especially if you’re optimizing them for search engines and social media.
- Use power words to make it impactful.
Structure & Format
Pay proper attention to the structure and formatting of your content. Check if the format and structure are right for your content form. Content has several forms, such as articles, blogs, webinars, eBooks. So, choose the format accordingly.
Also, check the flow of your content. See if headers, ideas, or chapters are well-organized.
Other vital things you should review in your content structure include:
- The logical sequence between paragraphs.
- All paragraphs are supporting the main idea of the content.
- The appropriate length of paragraphs
Keep your paragraph length between 100 to 200 words. Though there is no set length for a paragraph, most educators suggest that a paragraph should not be more than 5 to 6 sentences.
Additionally, find out if you can use bullet points, number lists to make your content more organized and easy to consume.
Consider the following for structure and format:
- Make sure your structure matches your content form.
- Make sure your headers, ideas, and chapters are well-organized. Also, see if adding lists or bullet points will make your point easier to convey.
- Make sure that the logical sequences between paragraphs make sense.
- Make sure that all paragraphs support the main idea of the content.
- Make sure that paragraph lengths are between 100 to 200 words.
If you care about readability, your text should be structured in an accepted manner. For example, if you’re writing an essay, give it an engaging introduction, body, and conclusion. Your content introduction should contain a thesis statement while its body should support the key points of your content.
Your closing sentence should connect back to the introduction and provide a sense of closure. To make your text structure reader-friendly, you need to ensure:
- Your text doesn’t have a repetition of concepts and ideas.
- Introduction, body, conclusion, references, all the sections are well structured.
Some key things to consider are
- Make sure your content is well-written and easy to read.
- Make sure that transitions between paragraphs flow well.
- Check that the tone of your writing aligns with the overall voice of your content.
- Add some supporting elements such as quotations, statistics, or examples to give your content that “wow” factor.
Give credit to the source if you’re referring to statistics, quotes, or ideas from someone’s other work. Also, ensure that the data is correctly interpreted from the original source. Double-check the spellings of the name of the company and person you’re quoting.
Make sure that:
- You give credit to your sources and that you interpreted their conclusions accurately.
- You correctly spell the name of the person or company that you are quoting.
No matter how well you write, you can have grammar mistakes, especially if you’re on a tight deadline. Therefore, it is necessary that you proofread your content from start to finish thoroughly.
Stay hyper-vigilant while checking for common grammatical errors such as ‘Your’ or ‘you’re’, ‘It’s or ‘Its’, ‘Then’ or ‘Than.’ Also, take a look at:
- Subject-verb agreement
- Verb tenses
- Plurals articles
- Word forms
If you’re in a rush or need extra support, you can use a grammar checker to help identify any grammar mistakes.
You must use the correct county-specific spelling in your writing, especially if you’re targeting a local audience. For example, British audiences spell the word “colour” with a “u” while American audiences spell the word as “color” without the “u.” See more examples of the differences between British and American English here.
Do not eliminate country-specific spellings and jargon. However, you need to make sure that your content makes sense to other people who are in your industry but from other countries.
In addition to spelling, keep an eye on punctuation. Accurate punctuation helps your readers understand your text. It points to the pauses and emphasis on thoughts and ideas discussed in the content. Check all your punctuation before submitting or publishing your content.
- Make sure that you spell words with local spellings for your audience.
- Double-check your punctuation.
Along with grammar and spellings, you must check if your vocabulary is accurate, precise, and formal.
- If you’re using a technical term or abbreviation within your content, explain to them when first used.
- Don’t overuse pronouns instead use subjects.
- Avoid overusing abbreviations.
The presentation of text impacts your content’s readability to a great extent. Regardless of how good your content is written, if it is not presented well, you won’t get the desired results. Check the following things when reviewing the presentation of your content.
- Font size and type
- Margins and spacing
- Justification of paragraphs
- Header & footers
- Capitalization of headings and subheadings
- Page numbering
- Bold and underlined words (avoid overusing them)
At this stage, you need to perform the last run-through of your writing to ensure everything is perfect. Some of the key things you must look out for are:
- Is your content grammar and spell-checked?
- Does any section of your content contain controversial information that might need approval before publishing?
- Are all company names spelled and styled accurately?
- Is the title engaging and relevant?
Proofreading and editing are necessary to produce great content. As humans, we all make mistakes. Therefore, a second and third set of eyes is essential to eliminate errors and make your content trustworthy. We hope this quick checklist will ensure that your document is free of errors, polished, and professional. We also recommend getting someone else who hasn’t seen your writing yet to read through as well to catch anything you may have missed.