How to Edit a Newspaper Article

Pile of newspapers

Editing a newspaper article requires a keen eye for detail and a strong command of how words and phrases should be properly used. Among the things to look for when editing a newspaper article is correct usage of grammar and proper spelling. Ensure also that the sentences and paragraphs flow well and aren't disjointed or confusing to the reader. Anyone editing an article should be mindful of possible factual errors. Editing requires fast and accurate fact checking.

Run the article through a spell check program, if possible, to check it for spelling errors. If there's no spell check available, use a dictionary to look up questionable words. Incorrect spellings can occur in all types of words, from ones with tricky spellings, like "daiquiri," to simple ones like "cemetery." Even small conjunctions like "and" and "but" can occasionally be misspelled if the writer is rushing or doesn't proofread his work. As a general rule of thumb, if the word doesn't look right, look it up.

Read through the story for grammatical mistakes. Grammatical errors, no matter how slight, can undermine a story's credibility and detract from the overall message. When reading the story, make sure there's no word confusion, such as improper usage of common terms like "their," "they're," "affect," "effect," "your" and "you're," for example. Pay particular attention to words with apostrophes.

Look for syntax errors in the story. Run-on sentences, fragments and other faulty structure can confuse readers and potentially give a misleading impression in the article. If a sentence is confusing enough that it must be read multiple times to make sense, edit it for brevity and clarity, preferably with the reporter's input, if he's available.

Check the article for factual errors. If anything in an article jumps out as being odd or unlikely, verify the facts with the reporter. Occasionally, reporters make mistakes, such as getting names or dates wrong or transposing digits within a number. Although some factual errors are minor, they shouldn't be allowed to slip through the editing process. A newspaper's popularity depends in part on its ability to get the story right.

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