Red Pen 10-Point Clipboard Checklist

By Nancy Ward


How to Edit Your Draft

Print this form out for each chapter or blog post and attach it to a clipboard. The first few items are usually done on the computer, but I still use the clipboard checklist to track my progress. I usually have several clipboards going so I can rest my mind frequently and get a fresh take on each project. Paste your favorite prayer on the clip.

BLOG/CHAPTER NAME_________________________  Deadline:__________


_______1.  Master your message – identify all the ideas that you have written.

  1. What do your sentences say?
  2. Does each paragraph discuss one idea, and one only?
  3. Do your ideas transition logically from one paragraph to the next?
  4. Are you saying what you meant to say?

When it doubt, forget style and art.  Just write down what you mean to say.  It can be made pretty later.

_______2. Remove the extra ideas.  Eliminate all non-essential observations, background information, side points, and other bonus material.

_______3. Remove the extra words.  Really, very, simply, especially, quite, in order to, in conjunction with, in consideration of . . . on paper, these filler words are often parasites.

_______4. Check for misuse of words you are not sure of  (gerunds and pronouns; job titles (President) capitalization; upload vs download) at common errors in English – errors or other handbook.

_______5. Run text through After the Deadline for spelling, grammar and a few clichés. Checks more thoroughly than Word, gives general examples, different issues than Grammerly. Free. You can install it on your server for everyday use, but if you copy and paste text into their site you get much better feedback with pull-down hints. (Saving your changes online messes up formatting— so copy and paste and then use divided screen to make changes.)

________6. Check for clichés on

________7. Run text through Grammarly.comRuns 250 different tests, including plagiarism. Doesn’t check the same snags as AtD. Online subscription after 7-day trial. It uses your text to give examples of corrections. (Saving your changes online messes up formatting. There’s a plug-in for MS Word.)

_______8. Listen.  How do you sound? Check these two together with clipboard and red pen in hand.

  • Punctuate.  Print a double-spaced manuscript draft and read it aloud.  As you read, do not take any breaths or pauses except at punctuation marks.  Where are the missing pauses and stops?  Go back and add punctuation.  You may need to turn one sentence into two, three, or more, in order to make your post read the way itshould be spoken.
    • Eliminate clumsy repetition.  It is not necessary to thinkupanelaborate list of synonyms for the subject of your article.  Rephrase your paragraphs to avoid jarring repetition of noticeable words.  If you are attempting to use repetition as a stylistic effect, and you aren’t sure you have succeeded, let your editor know that. In all cases, clear communication is more important than impeccable style.

______9. Proofread. Print another double-spaced draft. Read it word-by-word, forward and backward, marking corrections in red.  Correct, reprint, correct again.

Read through your whole post or chapter.  Every time you find a problem, go back and fix it immediately.  Then re-preview.  A well-edited post is usually read backward and forward three or more times.

______10. Get a second opinion read-through. Make changes; proofread as needed.

Expanded from Catholic Writers Guild Blog Guidelines. Thank you, Catholic Writers Guild, for providing the basics for this adaptation for us to adapt and make our own!


Nancy H C Ward

Nancy Ward is a convert, journalist, blogger, published author and speaker. On she shares her Joy in the Lord, her conversion, Catholicism and Christian community in Texas. Her “Sharing YOUR Faith Story” Seminar is available on DVD.


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