Why copy edit?
Copy editing is an important part of the writing and revision process. It’s one of the last touches on the copy before publication and is best done by someone other than the author. No one can catch all the typos in their own work, so fresh eyes on the words will help.
Ginny Redish, author of the classic Letting Go of the Words, describes copy editing as “looking at the little picture — the details of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.” Contrast it with “looking at the big picture” or substantive editing, which is a different but equally important editing pass.
If your organization doesn’t have a copy editor, share the job within your writing team and read each others’ work.
Here’s a basic copy writing checklist you can use to vet your content before it goes to production or publication. Adapt it to suit your needs, or download the checklist and use it as is with your team.
- Writing reflects the established rules and principles of usage, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Headings are effective and adhere to style guidelines and other requirements.
- Content is complete. This includes captions, links, phone numbers, addresses, statistics, images, etc.
- Names of people and places, titles, quotations, link urls, statistics, and other facts have been checked for accuracy.
- Terminology and usage is correct and consistent.
- Present tense is used unless there’s a clear reason not to.
- Spelling is correct, consistent, and adheres to style guidelines (for example, Canadian, U.S. or U.K. spelling).
- Pronouns are properly used.
- Numbers, measurements, abbreviations, acronyms, and captions are consistent and adhere to style guidelines.
- Links have been adequately incorporated according to best practices and style guidelines.
- All necessary copyright acknowledgements and permissions are in place.
- All content and visual elements meet content requirements.
- All required metatags and descriptions are complete, effective, and meet requirements.
- SEO keyword phrases have been adequately incorporated into text without impeding clarity or voice.