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Writing

Editing Checklist: How to Edit Your Own Writing

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 23, 2020 • 1 min read

One of the most useful tools you can have as an editor is a checklist that walks you through some of the most common mistakes.

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The Pulitzer Prize winner teaches you everything he's learned across 26 video lessons on dramatic writing.

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Why Is Editing Important?

Whether you’re self-editing your own writing or proofreading someone else’s work, taking another look at a piece of writing can reveal errors that you didn’t notice before. Playing around with word choice and sentence structure during the revision process isn’t just about fixing grammatical errors: Looking closely at your own work line by line can help you craft clearer, more satisfying sentences.

Editing Checklist for Self-Editing or Peer Review

Self-editing is a skill that requires practice. If you’re new to editing or participating in peer review, a revision checklist is a good place to start. During the editing process, ask yourself:

  • Are there any run-on sentences?
  • Are proper nouns capitalized?
  • Are there any unnecessary capital letters?
  • Are quotation marks in the right place?
  • Are any sentences written in the passive voice? Change to active voice.
  • Are apostrophes in the right places?
  • Are there any sentence fragments? Make complete sentences.
  • Are semicolons in the right places?
  • Do you notice unnecessary words? Can word choice be improved?
  • Are hyphens used correctly?
  • Are there spelling errors or typos? Pay special attention to homophones: Sometimes a word is spelled correctly, so spell-checker won’t catch it, but it’s used incorrectly.
  • Do sentences switch between past and present tense? Check subject-verb agreement and tenses.
  • Does the content make sense? Is it in an order that is easy to follow?
  • Are the page numbers correct and in order?
  • Are the chapter numbers correct?
  • Is the table of contents in the right order?
  • Is the punctuation correct?
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