Self-editing Checklist

“Lay Down Sally” – Eric Clapton (Unless someone was putting her on that bed, this use is incorrect.)

This is the self-editing check list that I use before sending work to an editor, or for little things that I can check myself, like blog posts. Start with basic spelling and grammar checking, then search on each of the words/terms below. For example, search on the word “your” and verify all instances. Next search for “you’re” and verify those.

Commonly Misused Words

accept / except
  • accept – to take or receive
  • except – to exclude
affect / effect
  • affect – to influence (If you can substitute the word “influence”, use “affect”.)
  • effect – a result ( Note: You can usually put “the” in front of it. “He kissed her for the effect.”)
allude / elude
  • allude – to refer
  • elude – to avoid
assure / ensure / insure
  • assure – with confidence
  • ensure – guarantee
  • insure – a policy
allusion / illusion
  • allusion – to make reference
  • illusion – to deceive
alternate / alternative
  • alternate – to take turns, a substitute
  • alternative – a choice
among / between
  • among – connection with more that two people/objects
  • between – connection with two people/objects
angry / mad
  • angry – to be upset
  • mad – to be crazy  (It has become acceptable to use mad in place of angry.)
assure / ensure/ insure
  • assure – reassure
  • ensure – guarantee
  • insure – a protection policy
bad / badly
  • bad – an adjective (I feel bad.)
  • badly – an adverb (He drives badly.)
break / brake
  • break – to destroy
  • brake – to stop a device or the device used to stop an object
by / buy / bye
  • by – near
  • buy – to purchase
  • bye – goodbye, a bye in sports
capital / capitol
  • capital – uppercase letters, a seat of government, the primary
  • capitol – a building
compliment / complement
  • compliment – praise
  • complement – pairs well with something
council / counsel
  • council – a group
  • counsel – to advise
drag /dragged vs drug /drugged
  • drag – present tense
  • dragged – past tense of drag
  • drug – a chemical (It could be used as a past tense of drag but generally is not. It is considered part of a dialect.)
  • drugged – to have drugged someone
emigrate / immigrate
  • emigrate – to leave a country
  • immigrate – to come into a country
further / farther / father
  • further – a metaphorical distance
  • farther – a physical distance
  • father – a dad (This is a common typo.)
its / it’s
  • its – possessive
  • it’s – it is
lay / lie
  • lay – setting down an object
  • lie – you lie on an object
led / lead
  • lead (pronounced leed) – the present tense
  • led (pronounced led) – the past tense of lead
  • lead (pronounced led) – the metal
less / fewer
  • less – applies to items that cannot be counter
  • fewer – applies to items that can be counter
one / won
  • one – a number
  • won – to have conquered
peak / peek
  • peak – the top
  • peek – a look
raise/rise
  • raise – something is being lifted (I raise my hand. With raised brows.) Past tense is raised.
  • rise – The object ascends without assistance. (The single is rising up the charts.) Past tense is rose.
rang/rung
  • rang – past tense of ring (I rang the bell.)
  • rung – past perfect of ring (I have rung the bell.)
set / sit
  • set – requires a direct object
  • sit – to rest, does not require a direct object
shutter / shudder
  • shutter – covers for a window
  • shudder – a jitter
sight / site
  • sight – vision
  • site – a place, i.e. a website
their / there / they’re
  • their – belonging to someone
  • there – a place, point, or state
  • they’re – they are
then / than
  • then – an action
  • than – a comparison
to / too / two
  • to – a motion toward
  • too – also
  • two – a number
wack / whack
  • wack – as in wack job
  • whack – to hit
waste / waist
  • waste – trash
  • waist – the middle of your body
who / whom
  • who – the subject of a sentence
  • whom – the object of a sentence (Whom does he love? Note that HE is the subject, so whom is used.)
whose  / who’s
  • whose – possessive
  • who’s – who is
you and I / you and me
  • you and I = we  If you could use we, then use you and I.
  • you and me = us  If you could use us, then use you and me.
your / you’re
  • your – possessive of you
  • you’re – you are

 

Common Typos

bathe / bath
bought / brought
breathe / breath
cleaver / clever
clothe / cloth
chose / choose
grove / groove
knight / night
life / live
lightening/lightning
lose / loose
though / thought / through
trial / trail

 

Correct Expressions

What things LIE ahead.

State your PIECE. (The expression means to state your side.)

 

Common Grammar Issues

Capitalization
Mom (meaning the proper noun) vs my mom
OK vs okay – Technically “OK” is an abbreviation, thus “okay” should be used.
alright vs all right – Although “alright” is gaining acceptance, the proper way is “all right.”

 

Punctuation
Make sure that punctuation lands within quotes. Search for ”. and replace it with .”

***
This came up today in the Authors Helping Authors group:
Is this punctuated properly? “So, I just walk in and say, ”Hi, Dad.”?”

The Oxford Style Manual seems to say that in this particular case you’d drop the full stop, but it’s not completely clear. In section 5.13.2 (quotation marks – relative placing with other punctuation) it states, “Usually, only one mark of terminal punctuation is needed. When the requirements of the quotation and the main text differ, use the stronger mark.” So theoretically, if you consider the full stop to be less important to the sense of the sentence as a whole than the question mark, you should drop it and just use the question mark. HOWEVER, it then goes on to say that if the punctuation inside and outside the quotation marks are EQUALLY important to the sense, you should keep both. The example they give is: Did he really shout “Stop thief!”?

So it’s a matter of judgement – is the full stop as important to the sense of the sentence as the question mark is? Decide that, then follow the appropriate rule, but basically, yes, “So, I just walk in and say, ”Hi, Dad.”?” is correct.

***

Numbers
While numbers should always be written as words, consistency is more important.

 

If you’d like to suggest an addition to this post, please place it in the comments section below, and I’ll pop it in. Thanks!

 

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2 Comments

  1. I’m totally confused now. I would have written that sentence as:
    “So, I just walk in and say, “Hi Dad?”” or
    “So, I just walk in and say . . . Hi Dad?”
    Does the dialogue within dialogue have to be separated out since the entire sentence is a question? I’m horrible at English and sentences like this confuse me even more.

    • I get it, Janell. It can be confusing. The thing is, “Hi, Dad.” is written as a statement in the post while your version turns it into “Hi, Dad?”. So if you start by looking at the quote, then branch out like it’s an equation, how to punctuate it becomes a lot clearer.

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