A Writer’s Checklist

You’ve nurtured an idea, slaved over every word, and you’re ready to send your words out into the world. But wait! Have you reread your work? Unfortunately, many small, easily fixed errors can creep into your copy (I’m always finding errors in my blog posts despite the time I spend bleeding over them). Take just a few minutes to review your copy, with this handy checklist in mind, and you’ll increase the quality of your work:

  • Watch for missing words. You know what you want to say, but for some reason your fingers didn’t type all the words. Especially if your copy isn’t going to an editor next, reread your copy slowly. Read it out loud. Read it backwards. Read it in a different setting. Whatever it takes to make it seem new.
  • Check for homonym errors. Spell-checkers won’t catch these bad boys. Homonyms are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. “To,” “too,” and “two” are a common set of homonyms that are often misused.
  • Companies are not people. Companies and organizations are referred to in the third-person singular: it and its.
  • Choose the right relative pronoun. Who refers to people; that refers to things.
  • Double-check words that are frequently confused. Be aware of such words as than/then and lose/loose. Weber State University offers a good list of frequently confused words. Print it up and tape it to your desk.
  • Check your math. If you include numbers and equations in your writing, double-check your math. There’s nothing worse than misplacing a decimal point or transposing two numbers…except having your readers find that you did it.

Today’s world moves fast. We’re forced to write more and faster. That’s when most errors sneak through. Taking just a couple minutes to review your copy helps ensure that it is of the highest quality, encouraging your readers to trust you and take your words, your message, seriously. And if you run short on time, drop me a line. Getting a professional editor gives your writing a better chance to meet its goals.

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