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An Editing Checklist from NAIWE- Make the Best Use of Your Editing Budget

Do-It-Yourself Editing Checklist

NAIWE- The professional association with the career-building difference.

Make the best use of your editing budget by doing a detailed check before turning your project over to a freelance editor.

by Janice Campbell

 ŠLisa F. Young | Dreamstime.comWhen you hire a copyeditor, academic evaluator, or proofreader, you may be eager to be done with your project, and want to dump it directly on the editor's desk without any sort of self-checking. After all, it's the editor's job to catch errors, right? It's true that your editor will catch errors, but when you are paying by the hour, there are some simple self-checking steps you can take to make your editor's job easier, and your bill as small as possible.

  1. Use spell check to find and correct all simple errors.

  2. Use the dictionary to verify word meanings.

  3. Use grammar check to flag grammar and usage issues. Be aware that grammar check is not always right, so consult a guide such as the Chicago Manual of Style if you aren't sure if something has been correctly flagged.

  4. Check that you have used punctuation correctly. If you are unsure of any item, look it up in a style and useage guide.

  5. Be aware of overused words and phrases, and substitute appropriate synonyms or metaphors.

  6. Eliminate the passive voice. Rather than, "The report was submitted by Jennifer," write "Jennifer submitted the report."

  7. Remove extraneous detail. If you are presenting a case or making a point, use no more detail than is absolutely critical to understanding.

  8. Be sure you have met requirements and/or conventions for presentation, including length, margins, and fonts.

  9. If your work is non-fiction, verify basic facts and provide correct citations.

  10. If your work is fiction, read it entirely through when it is finished to be certain that your plot is clear and that the settings and characters are well-defined and distinctive. Your writing coach or manuscript evaluator will certainly work with you to refine it further, but it pays to do an initial read-through yourself to make sure you haven't accidentally left out key plot developments or other critical information.

  11. Once you have completed items 1-10, do them all over again if you have time. You'll be amazed at what escaped you the first time through!


Janice Campbell, Director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, has worked as a freelance writer, editor, coach, and speaker since the late 1980's.