Marc’s Copy Editing Checklist

Books open to various pages
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

1. Quick Search and Replace

Words to delete

  • Will: you’ll, they’ll, I’ll, shall, must
  • Badverbs: very, really, honestly, absolutely, literally
  • Badjectives: amazing, awesome
  • Vagaries: that, stuff, things
  • Modals: can, could, should, would, may, might, maybe, some
  • Wigglers: be/are able to, start, attempt, try, begin
  • Qualifiers: now, where, “there was a time”, always, never, however, irregardless, just, often, sometimes

Words to replace

  • In order to => to
  • Will be able to => can
  • Has been => was
  • Appear as => are
  • And so on. You see what we’re doing here, yeah?

2. Make It Strong!

2.1 Destroy All Adverbs

2.2. Passive Voice Should Be Eliminated

2.3 It is not what it is…?


  • be, being, been, will be, is, am, are, was, were, isn’t, wasn’t, weren’t, won’t be


  • have, has, had, do, does, did, go, going, went

3. Dumb It Down

  • Split complex sentences.
  • Watch for commas, semicolons, em-dashes.
  • Find specific alternatives to overused words.
  • Do a reading level check.
  • Check sentence lengths; too long is too bad.
  • Vary lengths up, though. Everything the same length is dull.
  • Establish a pattern, then break it. Use repetition purposefully.

4. Clean It Up

  • Ensure tense and person is consistent.
  • Clarify anything that’s ambiguous or vague.
  • Strengthen sentence starts
  • Watch for sentences that begin with There, It, And, etc.
  • Spell check and grammar check one more time.
  • Watch for things you removed or changed in editing.

5. Make the Computer Do It For You

Pro Writing Aid:



6. Get Out There!

7. Let Me Know What You Think




Teacher, Game Designer, Performer, Developer, all the things.

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Marc Majcher

Marc Majcher

Teacher, Game Designer, Performer, Developer, all the things.

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