JD Wordsmith LLC
JD Wordsmith LLC
JD Wordsmith LLC Professional Writing, Editing, and Tutoring Services
JD Wordsmith LLCProfessional Writing, Editing, and Tutoring Services

Complete Editorial Checklist*



Spelling and Capitalization

  • Proper nouns, common words, and special terms are spelled and capitalized correctly.
  • Shortened forms (abbreviations and acronyms) are spelled and capitalized correctly and defined when first used or as needed.
  • Product names, trademarks, and registered trademarks are verified.
  • Titles, including the first and last word, are capitalized correctly.
  • Capitalization following colons in text is accurate.


  • Subjects and verbs agree.
  • Verbs are in correct tense.
  • Pronouns agree in gender and number with what (or whom) they refer to.
  • Pronouns are correct according to their place in the sentence.
  • Adjectives and adverbs are placed to keep meanings clear.


  • There is no missing punctuation.
  • There is no duplicated or misplaced punctuation.


  • Apostrophes are used only for possessives and missing letters, not for plurals.
  • Apostrophes face the correct way.


  • A comma is used before the last item in a series, unless chosen style omits it.
  • A comma, without a connecting conjunction, is not used to separate two complete sentences.


  • Em dashes (—) are used correctly— in pairs if they're in the middle of a sentence (consistently with spaces or not)—to set off words and are the width of a capital M.
  • To replace the word to or through, an en dash (-) is used (with no spaces) to separate items in ranges (London-Paris) and is half the width of an em dash.


  • Hyphenations and word divisions are correct.

Parentheses and Brackets

  • There are always opening and closing parentheses and brackets.


  • Period is inside parentheses when they enclose a separate and complete sentence.
  • Period is outside parentheses when the parenthetical matter—even a complete sentence—is included in another sentence.

Quotation Marks

  • There are always opening and closing quotation marks as appropriate.
  • Single quotation marks are used only around a quote within a quote.
  • Periods and commas are inside quotation marks.
  • Semicolons and colons are outside quotation marks.
  • Other punctuation is inside or outside quotation marks, depending on whether it's part of the quoted item.


  • Numbered lists are used when sequence matters or items will be cited.
  • Bulleted lists are used when sequence is unimportant and citation is unnecessary.

Figures, Graphs, and Art

  • Text references to figures, tables, and other elements are accurate and present as needed.
  • Captions accurately describe graphics.


  • Numbering in each numbered list is sequential and starts at 1 or A.
  • Bulleted list items are in alphabetical order (unless another order makes more sense).
  • Any section title numbering is consecutive.
  • Heading levels (first, second, third, etc.) are styled correctly for the content they introduce.
  • Numbered captions are in consecutive order.
  • Page numbering is consecutive overall or within sections, as appropriate, and appears on all pages where it should.

Spacing * Style guides, such as APA or MLA, may have different rules regarding spacing.  

  • Words are separated by one (and only one) space.
  • Periods and colons are followed by only one space.

Titles, Headers, and Footers

  • Titles and other headings accurately describe the content they introduce.
  • Content of headers (at the top of the page) and footers (at the bottom) is correct for each section.
  • Any numbering is consecutive and in appropriate form (e.g. all roman or all arabic).
  • Spelling and capitalization are correct and consistent:
     -First letter after a colon is capitalized.
     -First letter after an em dash or hyphen is capitalized or not, per style guidelines.
     -Articles, short conjunctions, and short prepositions are lowercased, unless starting or ending a title, or  
      contrary to style guidelines.
     -First and last word are capitalized, regardless of part of speech.

Table of Contents

  • Entries exactly match headings that appear in the document.
  • All headings appear that should (all first-level, all second-level, etc.); none appear that shouldn't.
  • In electronic and Web documents, all links between table of contents and text sections work correctly.

Web Links

  • In electronic copy, Web links in text work correctly.

Is It Consistent?

  • Statements of fact
  • Spelling (especially in acronyms and other all-capital items)
  • Capitalization (especially in titles, abbreviations, acronyms, and following colons)
  • Hyphenations and word divisions
  • Last comma (or no last comma) in a series of items; commas or no commas around Jr., Sr., Inc., etc.
  • Numbers—either spelled out or numerals, and consistent style for area codes, phone numbers, dates, times, etc.
  • Italic and other special fonts
  • Icons and symbols
  • Lists and tables:
      -Punctuation at the end of text that introduces the list or table
      -Bullet and number styles
      -Indents, spacing, and alignment
      -Capital letters (or lowercase)at the start of each item
      -Font, capitalization, and punctuation of list item lead-ins
      -Punctuation at end of list items (either periods or not periods)
      -Parallel structure
      -Table title numbering (or not) and style
      -Table-specific abbreviations (including numbers)
      -Headings (and continued lines) for multipage tables
      -Table placement and format styles
  • Document titles and headings
  • Captions and labels
  • Page numbers, headers, and footers
  • Table of contents entries


 *Adapted from Sullivan, K.D., & Eggleston, M. (2006). The complete editorial checklist. The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers, and Proofreaders. (pp. 212-215). New York: McGraw Hill.



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