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Last-Chance Review Guidelines

(10 Steps for Writers, Editors, and Others Interested in Great Documents)

There is no greater desire in the world than to change someone else's writing.
—Robert Louis Stevenson

Even a small flaw can spoil an otherwise excellent document, detracting from its credibility and effectiveness. Good practice includes spending a few extra minutes checking your document in a last-chance review. The 10 last-chance review steps outlined below can rescue a document. The first seven should be addressed using a hard copy master. The last three are best performed on the electronic file.

1. Cover and title page. Compare the cover and title pages and ensure the title, office location, date, and other information are correct and located properly.

2. Introductory matter. Read introductory matter and the first page of text to ensure they are correct and effective. There the document makes an early (and big) impression on the reader.

3. Contents and index. Scan the contents to ensure page references are accurate and, if time permits, scan the index for duplicate or missing page entries.

4. Page count. Check for missing or duplicate pages and for erroneous page numbers.

5. Headers and footers. Ensure that headers and footers are correct and that the word "DRAFT" is removed from the final version.

6. Style consistency. Check for consistency in bullets, indentations, headings, and footnote numbering.

7. Printer errors. Check each page of the hard-copy print master for printer errors like blotches, faint print, misalignment, bad page breaks, and black and white where there should be color.

8. Figures and tables. Check all figure and table captions and ensure they are numbered correctly. If time permits, use the electronic file and word-processing features to ensure figure and table references are correct.

9. Spelling. Correct spelling errors using the electronic spellcheck.

10. Bibliography and text references. In the electronic file, check references for completeness and accuracy.

Remember, a review by "another set of eyes" is always wise. So, whenever practical, ask a trusted person—or two—to look over your document before you submit it.


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