Five editing checkpoints you can easily remember

Editing is one of the most important aspects of news organizations’ activities. A poorly edited story makes nonsense of a well investigated story. Editing is one aspect of media establishments’ activities that contributes to the overall success of that establishment. Editing is the process of improving on a draft copy of a story with a view to correcting errors and making words and sentences clearer, more precise, and as effective as possible.

The person saddled with the responsibility of editing is called the editor. The editor is involved in the process of editing which entails adding, deleting, and rearranging words to make a story clearer and more reader-friendly. The editor is not the only person involved in the process of editing in news organizations. There is the news editor, sub-editor, deputy editor, and line editors. They play roles at different stages in the editing process. However, there are basic rules of editing which are followed in improving on a draft copy.

Checkpoints in editing are things to look out for while improving on a copy. Checkpoints serve as quick guide in the process of editing. Foster Davis and Karen Dunlap in their book “The Effective Editor” provided editing checkpoints that are very easy to remember and apply.

Editing Checkpoints

“The final step for the writer is to go back and clean up the rough edges… Here are some checkpoints:

Facts:

Make sure that what you’ve written is what happened;

Spelling:

Check and recheck names, titles, words with unusual spellings, your most frequently misspelled words, and everything else. Use a spell check but keep training your eye;

Numbers:

Recheck the digits, especially phone numbers. Check other numbers, make sure all math is correct, give thought to whether numbers (crowd estimates, salaries, etc.) seem logical;

Grammar:

Subjects and verbs must agree, pronouns need correct antecedents, modifiers must not dangle (make your English teacher proud);

Style:

When it comes to repairing your story, leave the copy desk feeling like the washing machine repair guy who has nothing to do.

Finally!

Editing is crucial to the success of any serious news organization. Understanding the editing checkpoints makes it easy for every writer to succeed and be sought after in the media industry. You can follow the checkpoints provided here in improving on draft copies of works before publishing them.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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