Journal News 2015 – Step 7 – Editor’s Check List

It’s time to send the journal out to our willing cohort of editors. But first I’ll post the editor’s checklist, so you can see what they’ll be looking for. (In many cases, they’re looking for things that I failed to fix in earlier passes, and I will send them my apologies.)

Things to check for while editing: Don’t panic about checking them all. Just get a feel for what you’re looking for, then read and enjoy, leaving comments as you go. If you’re unsure about something, just leave a comment and I’ll read it when you return the file.

Basic Stuff

  1. Headers: Are the titles formatted consistently—all caps? Is the author name written consistently—not all caps, and no comma before the “by”?
  2. Sections: Please send me your suggestions if you want to re-order the sections, place a piece in a different section, or re-order the pieces within a section. The general rule is—start the book with a strong, representative piece, and end with a strong, memorable piece.
  3. Contents List: Do all the pieces appear in the contents list or has something got lost. If you feel really noble, please click on each of the headers in the contents list to make sure they’re linked correctly. Please ignore this if you don’t know what I mean.
  4. Separators: Are blank lines used consistently as separators within the entries—separating stanzas of poems & separating sections of stories. (If there is no blank line where you think there should be one, or if there are multiple blank lines, please leave a comment to let me know.)

Getting into the details

  1. Dashes: Is the use of dashes consistent.
    1. E.g. “He followed the girl—the one he’d seen before.” This has a long dash and no spaces to either side. This is the dash we expect as a separator within sentences.
    2. In contrast, “counting 1 – 10” has a long-ish dash and spaces to either side.
    3. And “long-ish” has a short dash within a word.
  2. Ellipses: Is the use of … consistent? There should be three dots within a sentence, no spaces to either side, and four (three plus a period) at the end. The dots should be “real” periods, not Word formatted ellipses (as they don’t translate well to e-books).
  3. Paragraphs: Are all the paragraph indentations the same? If I’ve failed to remove leading tabs or spaces, I need to fix something, so please let me know.
  4. Numbers: Small numbers should be written out: e.g. two or three, not 2 or 3. Big numbers can be just numbers. If it feels wrong, leave a comment. Dates and times should be self-consistent.
  5. Use of italics: There are several places where we use italics:
    1. We use them for internal dialog. Is this done consistently?
    2. We use them for emphasis (and we don’t use underlines): e.g.“he really needed to see her.”
    3. We use them for air-quotes (quotes that are not specifically being spoken): e.g.
      1. They put him on the special watch list, not the “special watch” list.
      2. Mom always called her my baby, rather than “My baby.”
  6. Quote marks and apostrophes:
    1. Please make sure all quote marks look correct. The right sort of quotes and apostrophes look like “ ” and ‘ ’. The wrong sort, ‘ and “, need to be corrected, as in “I’ve tried to fix as many as I can.”
    2. Please make sure there are no leading or trailing spaces in quotes: e.g. “ Did you? “ is wrong. “Did you?” (with no spaces) is right.
    3. Please make sure the punctuation is inside the quote, except in exceptions: e.g.
      1. He said, “Go away.” The period goes inside the quote, and there’s a comma before the quote.
      2. “Go away,” he said. There is a comma before the quote mark.
      3. Did he really say, “Go away”? (This is an exception. Since his statement wasn’t a question, the question mark goes outside the quote.)
      4. She said, “What did he say?” (Here her statement was a question, so the question mark is within the quote.)
  7. More About Apostrophes: There are two more issues with apostrophes:
    1. Please check they point the right way. If an apostrophe replaces a missing letter, it should always be of the end-quote style: e.g. ’cause we need ’em, not ‘cause we need ‘em.
    2. Apostrophes should not be used for plural words, numbers or dates: e.g. 1960s, not 1960’s, IQs, not IQ’s. But note, the ’60s does have a leading apostrophe (for the missing 19).
  8. More About Quotes: Five things to look at with dialogue:
    1. Do pieces of dialogue all start and end with quote marks? If a quote continues into another paragraph, please make sure the previous paragraph does not have an end quote, and the next one does have a start.
    2. Do they begin and end with the correct punctuation—i.e. comma before quotes, and punctuation within the quotes except in exceptions (see 10 above)
    3. Are people addressed correctly with preceding commas. “Hey, Mom,” rather than “Hey Mom.”
    4. Do changes in speaker (whether quoted or internal thoughts) all have appropriate changes in paragraph?
    5. And are the dialogue tags possible? For example, we can nod, but we can’t nod words: e.g. “Oh good.” She nodded. Not, “Oh good,” she nodded.
  9. Capital letters: Do sentences start with capitals? Do names start with capitals? Do non-names start with non-capitals: e.g. “He asked his mom,” not, “He asked his Mom.” But, “He asked Mom,” is correct because Mom is acting as her name.
  10. Commas: Are they used consistently? e.g.
    1. They bought apples, pear, and bananas. We’ll use the extra comma before and.
    2. He bought apples, and she bought bananas. “She bought bananas,” is a complete sentence, so put a comma before and.
    3. He bought apples and went to the bookstore. “Went to the bookstore,” is not a complete sentence, so no comma is needed before and.
  11. Run on sentences: Do sentences end correctly. Replace commas with semi-colons or periods in run-on sentences: e.g. “It won’t work; there’s nothing to be done.” Not “It won’t work, there’s nothing to be done.”
  12. Incomplete sentences: Don’t fix these unless they’re confusing. We’re not trying to alter the author’s style.
  13. Is the grammar self-consistent within the story?
    1. Remember that grammar can be different in quotes, poetry, and writing from a well-defined point of view, so not all errors need to be corrected.
    2. Don’t try to fix changes of tense unless they’re seriously confusing. Again, we’re not trying to alter the author’s style.
    3. We know that family is singular and people are plural, but if the author wants to say, “The family left their home behind them,” we should let them. Don’t try to fix style.
  14. Are  hyphens  and compound words consistent? e.g.
    1. dining room rather than dining-room.
    2. bullseye, not bulls eye or bulls-eye etc.
    3. If you’re using Word, go with whatever the blue underlines say is right.
  15. First person pronoun: Unless it’s part of the character’s or narrator’s voice, the first person pronoun should always be the same in an and clause as it would be if it stood alone. e.g. I will edit, and the gift is from me, so “You and I” will edit this, and the result will be a gift from “you and me.” If in doubt, leave a comment.
  16. Typos:
    1. Please look for spelling errors.
    2. Please look for unexpected spaces between words, or unintentionally concatenated words.
    3. Please make sure I haven’t accidentally deleted a sentence (or paragraph). If something looks wrong or doesn’t make sense, please leave a comment and say so.
    4. Please make sure the correct words are used. Their, they’re, and there for example. Likewise peek (to look), peak (of a mountain) and pique (someone’s interest). Lie (I lie down, present tense), and lay (I lay down, past tense, or I lay the kitten down, present tense verb takes an object – the kitten).
    5. But don’t try to fix typos that are there for effect – for the sound of a character’s or the narrator’s voice.
  17. Clarity: If there’s something unclear in a story that can be easily fixed, say by adding or removing a name, breaking a sentence, starting a new paragraph, or even inserting a blank line separator between paragraphs, please let me know. We’re not making major changes here, but all our writers want their writing presented in the best light possible.
  18. ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN THINK OF...please just let me know! This is a partially edited file, but I confidently expect you will find things that need to be fixed. We are all relying on you! No pressure, right? J





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