As we all know, content creation isn't as simple as just stringing together a few words and hitting "publish." At least all high-quality content creators know this.
If you really think about it, the editorial process has quite a few steps -- from ideation, to concepting, to production, to proofreading, editing and copyediting. Unfortunately, it's that last part that often gets undermined, rushed through, or altogether just swept aside as writers and content creators hurry to get content out the door. But if you really want to ship remarkable, high-quality content, you can't afford to overlook the proofreading and editing process.
The problem is, it can be difficult to remember every little editing consideration you should be making. So in an effort to make things a little easier on you, we compiled a complete online editing and proofreading checklist you can bookmark (or download a PDF version of here) and use to make sure your next piece of content is ready and raring to go, whether it be a simple blog post or something longer form, like an ebook.
The Content Editor's Online Proofreading, Editing, and Copyediting Checklist
Consider these high-level questions at the beginning stages of the editorial process. (Tip: Ask contributors to show you a working title and/or a brief outline for the piece of content before they start writing so you can steer them in the right direction and save writers' time.)
Article Structure & Formatting
Optimizing the way the writer organizes their content and ideas is an important part of the editing process. Ask yourself these questions to determine whether the content is structured and formatted in an optimal way.
Writing / Copyediting
This section is pretty important, for obvious reasons. Here are the critical things to consider as you're evaluating the writing in and of itself.
Here are some additional tips that can transform your content from okay to awesome.
Any good editor makes sure he/she is giving credit where credit is due. Here's what to think about.
The title/headline of your piece of content is often the first impression it gives off (think social media shares, search results, etc.), so it's important to put some time and careful thought into its selection. Here's what to consider.
Is the title keyword-conscious without being keyword-heavy and sacrificing user experience and clickthroughs (see also the section about search engine optimization)?
Style Guide Alignment
Written style guides serve as the commonly acknowledged authority when questions of grammar, punctuation, and style come up in writing. A style guide answers questions like whether you use title case for article titles and headers; whether you capitalize the word internet; or whether you use the Oxford comma.
You can either adopt an already-established style guide, like the AP Stylebook, or create an in-house version that enables you to borrow from different schools of thought and address any nuances specific to your industry or company. The important thing is to be consistent across all content you publish. Here's the main question you should ask yourself ...
Search Engine and Conversion Optimization
Want to get your content ranked for relevant keywords in Google and other search engines? Don't forget on-page SEO best practices. Then make sure you're converting all that traffic by doing some conversion optimization as well. Here's what to consider.
You're almost done! But don't overlook these finishing touches.
Final Sanity Check
Now that all the nitty-gritty edits have been made, sit back and take a look at the content holistically. Then ask yourself these questions ...
Once you hit publish, your work shouldn't end there. Last but not least, make sure you're getting the most bang from your buck with these promotion tips. (Get more content promotion tips in our free Comprehensive Guide to Content Promotion.)
Originally published Apr 24, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 17 2018