Topic 11: Editing Yourself and Others

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Editing Checklist (continued)


  • Omits excess words – Challenge every word by asking “Do I need it?” Pronouns, active voice and base verbs help eliminate excess words, as does eliminating unnecessary modifiers. For example, in “UNDP and DPKO issued a joint report,” the word “joint” is redundant. Similarly, in “this information is very critical,” the word “very” is unnecessary because it is implied in the word “critical.”
  • Uses concrete, familiar words – You don’t impress people by using big words, you just confuse them. Define and limit abbreviations. Avoid jargon, foreign terms, Latin terms, legal terms, and long strings of nouns.
  • Places words carefully – Placing words carefully within a sentence is as important as organizing your document effectively. Keep the subject, verb and object close together. Put exceptions at the end and place modifiers correctly, as in "we want only the best" not "we only want the best."
  • Uses lists and tables – Shorten and clarify complex material by using lists, tables and diagrams.
  • Uses no more than two or three levels – Readers get lost when you use more than two or three levels in a document. If you find you need more levels, consider sub-dividing your top level into more parts.

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