The Final Edit: 5 Things To Do Before Submitting Your Story
1. Spell check your story.
· It's simple and it's easy, but many young journalists forget to do it.
2. Print out your story.
· After you've edited it on your computer, print it out and look over it again. Read it out loud. Many times you'll catch mistakes on your hard copy that you miss on a computer screen. Having a hard copy is also good protection against a computer crash or file corruption.
3. Underline all names and places.
· For names, check the spellings again. Remember, many people's names have nontraditional spellings. Is it Mark or Marc? Cindy or Cyndi? Gregg or Greg? Did you include full names and qualifiers (i.e. Jon Smith, 44, of Howell; Byron James, police chief of Long Branch) on first reference?
· If it's a place, is it spelled correctly? Are you sure the address is correct? Is it in correct AP format? Remember: in stories, states are not abbreviated the same way as when you're mailing a letter. For example, in AP Style, New Jersey is abbreviated as "N.J." - not "NJ".
4. Circle all dates and numbers.
· Double-check to make sure you provided the correct date. Use proper names of days (i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) instead of "yesterday," "today" or "tomorrow." You don't know when the story will run, so using the latter terms could cause confusion.
· Make sure your numbers are correct. Remember, it's okay to round off. If you arrived at your numbers through math (i.e. "The school budget will increase 22 percent this upcoming fiscal year."), double check that your calculated correctly.
5. Re-examine every quote.
· Compare it to your notes. Is it attributed to the correct person? Is it typed in your story correctly? Did you accidentally omit a "not" or "un" or some other word(s) that could entirely change its meaning?