Checklist for Copy Editing

Grammatical & Effective Sentences

  • Choppy sentences; fix through subordination. Choppy example
  • Shifts in verb tense (e.g. past to present) or point of view.
  • Dangling or misplaced modifiers (e.g. While walking the dog, he bit a stranger).
  • Agreement: subject/verb (e.g. We goes. . . We go …) & pronoun/antecedent (e.g. A student studies so that they succeed … Students study ….)
  • Comma splices and fused sentences (a.k.a. run-on sentences); Sentence fragments.

Word Choice

(General rule of thumb. You have to work hard in formal writing. Don't take any short-cuts. )

  • Tone is academic: formal, appropriate to audience and purpose. Avoid frequent repetitions of “I,” “I feel that,” and “in my opinion.”
  • Wordy sentences; fix by cutting unnecessary words/phrases
  • Passive voice (e.g. NOT: It is believed by certain snobs that many people do not speak proper English. BUT: Certain snobs believe that ….)
  • Standard usage/spelling; avoid contractions (isn't, it's, etc.), abbreviations (fem., 19th, etc.), errors (e.g. its/it's, affect/effect, alot, can not/cannot etc.) and other habits inappropriate to formal writing.


  • Commas (missing) or (unnecessary)
  • Apostrophes (excessive or misued);
  • Confusion of semicolon (;) or colon (:)
  • Quotation marks and proper “MLA parenthetical citation format” (Gibaldi 123).

Format - Follow MLA Guidelines

  • Margins 1 inch only, on all sides; last name and page number in the top-right corner of all pages after the first.
  • The font size is 12-points and the style a normal, readable choice like Times Roman, Courier, or Book Antigua.
  • Cover page: original title, centered (Use Title Case But Do Not Underline); name, course, and date appear below it, horizontally centered.
  • Lines are double-spaced throughout, with no extra spaces between paragraphs or separating quotations. New paragraphs are indented 5-spaces (1/2 inch) and block quotations 10-spaces (1 inch).