Topic 11: Editing Yourself and Others

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Editing Checklist


Use this simple checklist to evaluate and improve your writing and that of others:

  • Written for the average reader – Know the expertise and interest of your average reader and write to that person. Don't write to the experts, the lawyers, or management, unless they are your intended audience.
  • Organized to serve the reader’s needs – Organize your content in the order the reader needs. In general, either put the most important material first and exceptions last, or organize the material chronologically.
  • Has useful headings – Headings help the reader find the way through your material. Headings should capture the essence of all the material under the heading.
  • Uses active voice – Using active voice clarifies who is doing what; passive obscures it. Active voice is generally shorter, as well as clearer. Active sentences are structured with the actor first (as the subject), then the verb, then the object of the action.
  • Uses short sentences and sections – Using short sentences, paragraphs and sections helps readers easily review the material and grasp its meaning.
  • Uses the simplest tense possible – The simplest verb tense is the clearest and strongest. Use simple present whenever possible. For example, say “The department issues a report every quarter,” not “The department will be issuing a report every quarter.”

SOURCE: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/quickreference/checklist.cfm