Editing Levels Triage List

This 'triage list' of editing levels summarises the typical copyediting tasks covered in a basic or full edit of a Microsoft Word document (doc); the 'extras' level includes tasks that normally aren't part of my copyediting services. Some tasks may be done concurrently; some may be dropped depending on your requirements and the type of doc. [PDF/printable version of this list]

How long your job will take? Well, it all depends... but as a guideline, use these time estimates, which are based on single-spaced A4 pages:


Editing Task (as applicable) Editing Levels
Basic Full Extras
Create a copy of the original doc and work on the copy
Track changes to text, and any other changes that may change meaning (do NOT track minor/mechanical changes or formatting)
Follow the style guide/sheet, if there is one

Note: I can create a style sheet for the doc if the author doesn't provide one. This will add at least 2 to 10 hours to the time taken. Please clearly indicate if you want this done.

Templates, styles, formatting
Verify correct template; if necessary, copy content to new doc based on the template
Set up a template (with styles) from scratch

NOTE: This can add 4 to 16 hours and only applies if there is no specific template and you need one for future docs

Accept all formatting tracked changes; turn off track formatting
Apply template's styles (format text, tables, headers/footers, headings, captions etc.); if no template, check styles for consistency
Check heading and caption case and punctuation
Check bulleted and numbered lists are correctly formatted with styles
Check bulleted and numbered lists are correctly styled and use the relevant levels
Check styles used for appendices and elements within appendices (e.g. headings, subheadings, captions)
Check headers/footers
Check page orientation, margins, and paper size; adjust headers/footers and page numbering accordingly
Check for blank pages, incorrectly placed graphics, incorrect headers/footers for the page orientation, etc.
Check page and section breaks are logical and don't split content awkwardly; avoid manual breaks where possible
Remove all extraneous marks (extra spaces, tabs, line/page breaks, etc.)
Insert nonbreaking spaces between values and their units of measure
Front matter
Check title page and front matter (e.g. doc control information)
Create/verify table of contents
Check lists of tables, figures, and appendices are included in the front matter; update
Tables and figures
Check all tables/figures have auto captions
Check table/figure caption location, formatting, alignment, and case
Format tables; check table header row repeat is on
Check figures for correct spelling of labels/legends, correct measurement units, clarity of images, lines, and text, etc.
Check alignment and size of figures
Check placement of notes and source information for tables/figures
Abbreviations and terms
Identify all acronyms, abbreviations, initialisms, and unfamiliar words, and include each in the terms list if used more than once in the doc
Delete any unused terms
Sort terms into alphabetical order
Citations and references
Check citation formatting; if numbered cross-referenced citations are used, check the links
Check citations match the corresponding items in the references list; delete uncited references (track changes on)
Check formatting of bibliographic items in the references list; make sure there is sufficient publication information for others to find the resource
Check URLs and DOIs (Note: This can add many hours)
Check accuracy of bibliographic data (Note: This can add many hours)
Check journal abbreviations and titles (Note: This can add many hours)
Accuracy and consistency checks
Apply designated spelling language settings to entire doc
Check spelling (general) according to specified dictionary
Check/confirm spelling, spacing, and capitalisation of company names (in full and abbreviated)
Check/confirm spelling of personal names, job titles, etc. (if possible)
Check spelling of geographic names/locations
Check consistency of names, phrases, hyphenation, etc.
Check consistency of voice between authors
Check calculations in tables and equations (where possible)
Check formatting of chemical symbols
Check formatting of Latin names (including species' names) and abbreviations
Check spelling of Latin names (including species' names) and abbreviations
Check formatting of species' common names (e.g. initial capitals or not; hypenation or not)
Check spelling of species' common names
Check formatting of long numbers
Check date formatting
Check currency designators are used, and the date when the amount was applicable
Alert author to anything potentially requiring a legal opinion (copyright, libel, plagiarism etc.) NOTE: I'm NOT a lawyer, so can only alert the author if something raises a red flag for me
Check for duplicate words (e.g. the the)
Check case used at beginning of bulleted and numbered lists
Check all cross-references to sections, tables, figures, appendices are automated fields and the links work
Check page numbering
Check notes, cautions, warnings for consistency
Update all fields and check for error messages; resolve, where possible
Read every word of the text
Check for redundancy, repetition, misused words, and general word usage errors
Check subject/verb agreement
Reword/rewrite in plain language for clarity
Split long sentences into two or more
Move/delete words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs to improve clarity
Check grammar and punctuation
Use serial (Oxford) commas in run-on lists to remove ambiguity
Check for parallel verbs in bulleted and numbered lists
Email author, summarising the changes and main issues found that the author needs to address


Minor/mechanical changes are not tracked (UNLESS specifically requested to do so); these changes include, but are not limited to:

Webpage last updated: 04 January 2022