The writing process is a chance to let creativity fly and tell a story with your own words.
Another, less glamorous part of the writing process is editing.
As you may know, proofreading is essential for any blog or ebook. It makes your work look professional, and without editing, it’s unclear to know how many mistakes or readability problems being published.
Remembering every single little grammar and editing rule is nonsense. While many become instincts over time, humans are known to make mistakes. That’s why we’ve created a checklist for you to use while editing so you have a point of reference while proofreading.
This list isn’t just about grammar rules; it also includes tips from topic selection, SEO, to promotion. Essentially, it can take you from beginning to the end of what you write.
Read on for our complete editing and proofreading checklist — made with the content creator in mind.
The Content Creator’s Editing Checklist
In this checklist, we will go over nine sections, listed below.
We’ll start at the beginning with topics. Knowing which topic to write about can come from various places, but these tips will double check that what you’re writing about will resonate with your readers and have the chance to rock it with SEO.
Does this topic align with our content strategy? Will our readers/ buyer personas
care about it?
Have we covered this topic comprehensively in the past? Will it add anything new and interesting amongst all the content clutter on the web? If both answers are yes, consider updating and republishing
the original draft.
Can the angle be tweaked to be even more interesting?
Does this topic have SEO have high potential?
Is this topic relevant to the industry/timely?
Structure & Format
How do you structure your pieces? This section makes sure your content is formatted in the best way for readability. It also provides some room for checking consistency.
Is this the right format for the content? Does this topic work better as a longer form ebook? Or in a shorter form, like a listicle?
Is the flow of the content logical? Are the chapters/headers/ideas organized in an order that makes sense and naturally guides readers through the content?
Are paragraphs 2-3 sections long for readability?
Are your headers formatted consistently — not just within this piece of content? Are different header styles (H2 vs. H3 vs. H4) being used to properly denote content hierarchy?
Is the content comprehensive? Are all major points associated with the topic covered in the post?
Can you incorporate numbered lists and/or bullets to make it easier for readers to skim, scan, and identify important takeaways?
Are supporting images and visuals included where appropriate?
Are these visuals and images high quality
and interesting? Have they been resized and compressed so keep page load time short?
We can’t have an editing checklist without a section to double-check your copy. These are little things to make sure the narrative of your writing is succinct and engaging, as well as minor grammar edits.
Is the content well-written? Is the writing interesting, entertaining, and easy to read?
Does the content tell a story?
Do the transitions make sense and flow well?
Is the grammar correct?
Does the intro tee up the rest of the content well and explain the value the reader will get out of reading it?
Are the headers keyword-optimized, compelling, and clear?
Does the tone of the writing align with the content being presented?
Does the content’s voice coincide with the overall voice of our content and company?
Yet, are we still allowing the writer’s individual writing personality to shine through?
Any good editor makes sure he/she is giving credit where credit is due. Here’s what to think about.
Are statistics, data, quotes, ideas, etc. properly attributed
to the original source with a link back?
Is the data interpreted correctly (i.e. not lost in translation) from the original source?
In any quotations, do we have the right spelling of the name and job title/company of the person quoted?
Are we actually allowed to use these photos/images
? (Here’s a cautionary tale about internet copyright law.)
Titles are the first exposure most of your readers get to your piece. How are you going to use that to your advantage? Go over some tips for the effectiveness of your title.
Is the title compelling and interesting enough to get people to click through and read on?
Does the title accurately reflect the content within? Avoid being overly sensational or bombastic.
Is the title brief and concise? (Tip: Keep in mind longer titles will get cut off in search engine results.)
Is the title keyword-conscious without being keyword-heavy and sacrificing user experience and clickthroughs ( see also the section about search engine optimization)?
Style Guide Alignment
Written style guides serve as the commonly acknowledged authority when questions of grammar, punctuation, and style come up in writing. A style guide answers questions like whether you use title case for article titles and headers; whether you capitalize the word internet; or whether you use the Oxford comma.
You can either adopt an already-established style guide, like the AP Stylebook, or create an in-house version that enables you to borrow from different schools of thought and address any nuances specific to your industry or company. The important thing is to be consistent across all content you publish. Here’s the main question you should ask yourself …
Does anything contradict our style guide? (Tip: If you don’t have a style guide, you can download HubSpot’s and customize it as you see fit.)
One of the most important parts of a post, SEO helps others and search engines find your piece. Are you doing all you can to boost that? Check your work below.
Have you done your keyword research
to identify relevant keywords with which to optimize your content?
If it’s a blog post or web/landing page, is there a catchy, concise, and clear meta description to encourage clickthroughs in search engine results pages (SERPs)?
You’re almost there. To make sure your post is excellent rather than mediocre, use this section to do a final run-through.
Are there internal links to other resources, landing pages, or blog articles that might be helpful to the reader (or improve your SEO)?
Were those links tested to confirm they work and send readers to the right place?
Is the content spell-checked?
Are any company names referenced spelled and styled correctly?
Does the content contain any sensitive or controversial information that we need to get anyone’s approval on before publishing (e.g. legal or PR department)?
Have any stats cited or quotes used been fact checked?
If it’s a blog post, is it tagged with the appropriate topic tags?
Was the publish date/time double-checked so we’re not accidentally scheduling for 8 p.m. instead of 8 a.m.? (It happens. We’ve done it.)
Did we include examples (real or hypothetical) to illustrate our points?
Did we use data, statistics, and quotations to back up our points?
Are there other supporting elements that could enhance the content?
Now that your piece is complete, you’ve gotta promote it. This section gives you different ideas of how to get your writing out there.
Have you promoted it on relevant social media channels?
Have you emailed it to subscribers, leads, and other relevant contacts?
Can you put some paid promotion behind it using paid platforms or via advertising options available by social media sites like Facebook and Twitter?
Can you syndicate it to other publishing platforms like LinkedIn Pulse or Medium to expose it to other audiences?
Writing is hard and editing isn’t that easy, either. Keeping this checklist saved or bookmarked is a resource to turn back to when you get stuck or need an extra check over your work.