I recently updated my resume and realized I’ve been doing full-time copy editing for well over 10 years. I also realized that I have far more grey hair and wrinkles than I did just last year. But they say with age comes wisdom, and I’m here to give you a proper editing checklist of things to watch out for when you are self-editing your work.

Editing Checklist:

  • Consistency
  • Spacing
  • Logic
  • Spell check

First, are things consistent?

This includes POV (is the story told by the same narrator throughout, or if it changes, is it easy to follow and clear to the reader?). It also includes tense—is the story told in the same tense throughout, maybe third-person past tense, or first-person present tense? Inconsistency causes confusion, and confusion causes the reader to get pulled out of the story as they ask, “Huh?” This is never good. You want to keep your reader immersed in your story. Consistent capitalization is another thing to watch out for. Are the same words capitalized throughout? In some religious texts, an author may choose to capitalize pronouns that refer to God; this is very tricky to do as it is so easy to miss one or ten of these He/Hims.

How about extra character spaces?

During my high school days, in typing class, I was taught to put two spaces after a period. That is not the case any longer. In fact, when you put two spaces after a period, the space created is far too wide, and it looks goofy. Be sure to delete any extra character spaces throughout the text.

Logic: is it consistent?

Is the character sitting at a school desk but then suddenly writing on the chalkboard in front of the class? This will also cause the reader to go, “Huh?” and be pulled out of the story quickly. You have to make sure the story unfolds properly and doesn’t suddenly shift in time accidently or do something that doesn’t follow the logic of the story. When the reader has to try and piece together what is happening, they will more than likely discard the book and find a more enjoyable activity.

Spell check

The last thing I will mention for an editing checklist is to do a good ol’ spell check. It is free, it is quick, and it just takes the push of a button. In Word, it is under the review tab. In the top left corner, select “Editor.” Easy peasy.

Become familiar with the rules of writing, and you can easily do the above editing checklist on your own.