Think Like an Editor blog by Steve Davis and Emilie Davis, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

Accuracy check — 8 quick tips

By · Friday, February 7th, 2014

From Think Like an Editor, we bring you some key tips to ensure accuracy in content. Running through this checklist will take less time than it would take to correct any errors or misinformation that otherwise might get past you. Are you publishing content without an editor? This post is especially for you.

When you get to #6 (Use your resources), consider a site we just learned about this week, thanks to Gerri Berendzen @gerrrib , who shared it during a live chat of the American Copy Editors Society. It’s called Verification Handbook , and there you’ll find a comprehensive list of online verification tools.

From Strategy 28: Edit for Accuracy

  1. Check names. People, places and companies, especially names that are hard to spell or are frequently misspelled.
  2. Check addresses and phone numbers. Look them up. Call the numbers.
  3. Do the math. Add, subtract, multiply, divide and work out percentages whenever numbers appear in stories.
  4. Check dates. Do the math when it comes to ages and anniversaries. A person’s age, for example, depends on the month and date of birth in relation to when the story is being published.
  5. Check numbers in the lead. Compare numbers in the lead against information in the story, especially the last graph.
  6. Use your resources. Know where to check facts and information. You might need to verify information with more than one resource. Go to the primary source when possible.
  7. Check previous stories. Give special attention to stories about an issue that has been in the news. Know details or facts surrounding the issue.
  8. Use common sense. Think about what you are writing and reading. Sometimes the most glaring errors are easily missed. Visualize as you read. Question anything that does not make sense.

The book actually has 10 tips for editors, but #9 (Check your own work) and #10 (Ask the reporter) don’t apply when it is you who are both reporter and editor.

Emilie Davis

Comments

Add one to the list: check the links!

By Steve Davis on February 12th, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Thanks for the tip, Kate. That’s a valuable one! Keep reading, and we always appreciate comments.

Emilie Davis