Editing checklist

Dr. Suggs’s brilliant editing worksheet
Use the questions in each section to assess the story in a way that will help the writer improve it.
STEP ONE: Read the story all the way through without making any changes or corrections.
STEP TWO: Microediting: Spelling, grammar, style, sentence construction, and fact-checking
Format: Does the story have the appropriate slug, hed, and byline?
Use spell-checking in Google Docs. Is everything spelled correctly?
Are there bad word forms or other misused words?
Usage: Are there any words that look like they are not being used correctly?
Do subjects and verbs agree?
Are objects used correctly?
Are there dangling modifiers?
Are tenses consistent?
Are voices (active and passive) used appropriately?
Are commas used correctly?
Are other forms of punctuation used appropriately?
Sentence construction
Are all sentences complete, i.e., are there run-on sentences?
Are sentence forms varied?
Are sentences written concisely, i.e. does every word count?
Are “sentence crutches”—em-dashes, semicolons—used very sparingly?
Are clauses and items in lists parallel?
Are there naked assertions?
Is it clear where every fact comes from?

STEP THREE: Macroediting: Structure and organization
Top matter
Is the lede appropriate for the subject and the type of story?
Do the hed, lede, and deck work together to sell the story?
Nut graf
What is the essential news or problem conveyed in the story?
Is that conveyed appropriately and accurately in the nut graf?
What is the flow of the rest of the story?
Descending order of importance
Does the logic chosen make sense, given the subject and tone of the story?
Are there good transitions between sections?
Does the conclusion include the same actors introduced in the lede or elsewhere?
Resolution: The conclusion should have something for the reader who has gotten this far:
A solution to a problem posed in the lede/nut
A restatement/illustration of the problem
A lesson
Pointers to future events
The big picture:
What is the larger story the writer is trying to tell?
Does the writer tell a compelling story?
Do you believe the writer reported this story thoroughly?
Does it feel like a puff piece?
Is a reasonably smart person who has no background in the topic going to find this story, interesting, enlightening, and worth reading?
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