101 things to check when editing/proofreading

Posted: 15th Nov 2011

Whilst proofreading the other day, I realised that I am actually checking a lot of different aspects of the document at the same time. The list below was put together to give an idea of what sort of errors and issues to look for in the proofreading process.

Spelling and grammar

  1. Capitalisation of proper nouns
  2. Capitalisation at the start of sentences
  3. Tense
  4. Use of active/passive voice
  5. Homonyms and homophones (e.g. ‘allowed’/’aloud’)
  6. All brackets and parenthetic commas are closed
  7. Compound nouns are hyphenated where necessary
  8. No hyphens after adjectives ending in –ly
  9. Countable vs. uncountable nouns
  10. Article types (‘a’/’an’ vs. ‘the’)
  11. Redundant or missing articles
  12. Missing question marks for rhetorical questions
  13. Over-use or inappropriate use of exclamation marks
  14. Quantifiers (e.g. ‘much’ vs. ‘many’)
  15. Superlatives and comparatives (e.g. ‘worse’ rather than ‘badder’)
  16. Correct prepositions (e.g. ‘danced at a party’ rather than ‘danced on a party’)
  17. Commas between adjectives of the same category
  18. Order of adjectives
  19. Subject-verb agreement
  20. No sentences ending in prepositions (formal writing)
  21. Correct plural forms
  22. Pronoun use (e.g. ‘I’ vs. ‘me’)
  23. No missing diacritics (like accents and umlauts)
  24. Singular vs. collective nouns (e.g. for company names - depends on dialect)
  25. Correct use of apostrophes
  26. Comma placement
  27. Semicolons vs. colons vs. commas
  28. Modal forms (e.g. ‘could’ vs. ‘can’)
  29. Full stops after certain abbreviations (e.g. ‘e.g.’!)
  30. Correct verb conjugation
  31. No capitalisation of compass points unless part of a proper noun
  32. Transposed letters
  33. Missing or extra letters
  34. All sentences are complete sentences (perhaps excludes flash fiction!)
  35. Accidentally omitted words
  36. Irregular verbs
  37. Positioning of negative adverbs
  38. Double negatives
  39. Capitalisation of headings
  40. Conditional sentences
  41. Phrasal verbs
  42. Confusion between adverbs and adjectives
  43. Auxiliary verbs
  44. Commas after introductory phrases or clauses in sentences
  45. Gender-neutral pronouns for objects in English (although some nautical texts refer to a ship as ‘she’)


  1. Point of view (first or second person)
  2. Appropriate vocabulary for the intended audience
  3. Organisation of document (e.g. does it need an introduction?)
  4. Consistent dialect (e.g. US English vs. British English)
  5. Explanation of uncommon abbreviations on first use
  6. Speech mark and apostrophe styles
  7. Consistent approach to writing out numbers in full (e.g. writing out all one-word numbers)
  8. Unnecessary repetition
  9. Sentence length and complexity
  10. Ambiguous vocabulary (e.g. ‘biannual’ can mean twice a year and every other year)
  11. Flow of paragraphs and ideas
  12. Correct use of cultural idioms and proverbs – particularly difficult for non-native speakers
  13. Appropriate word count
  14. Avoid contractions and colloquialisms in formal writing (e.g. write ‘do not’ instead of ‘don’t’)
  15. Consistent writing style
  16. Varied sentence structure
  17. Clarity of central argument, theme or message
  18. Appropriate document title
  19. Comprehensible use of deixis (e.g. ‘it’ and ‘that’)
  20. Tautologies
  21. Responds to original instructions/brief/question
  22. Unclear separation of items in lists
  23. Consistent approach to ‘while’/‘whilst’, ‘among’/‘amongst’ and ‘amid’/‘amidst’


  1. Italics for non-English terms (e.g. in medias res)
  2. Font size
  3. Font type
  4. Font colour
  5. Page numbering
  6. Figure and table numbering
  7. Formatting of quotations
  8. Paragraph spacing
  9. Spacing after punctuation
  10. Accidental duplicate spaces
  11. Captions for images
  12. Consistent formatting of headings and sub-headings
  13. Text alignment
  14. Headers and footers
  15. List numbering
  16. Bullet point formatting
  17. Margins
  18. Figures and tables running over pages
  19. Correct in-text page and figure referencing (e.g. ‘see Page 3’)
  20. Indentation
  21. Consistent image positioning
  22. Any formatting conventions for the document type (e.g. address blocks on letters)
  23. Tabs and tab stops
  24. Subscript and superscript text

Referencing and validity

  1. Reference style
  2. Reference validity
  3. All hyperlinks or internal document links valid
  4. Plagiarism
  5. Originality
  6. Accurate facts and data
  7. All figures and tables referenced in the text
  8. Author name (including within your word processor’s settings)
  9. Contact details


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09/04/2024 15:34

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