When you're close to a final draft, use this self-editing checklist to add a bit of polish--or give it to your assistant to do the same.
- Are the headings correctly numbered?
- Are acronyms explained?
- Are the parties referred to in the same way throughout the brief?
- When referring to the parties, have you used proper form of singular, plural and possessive, e.g., "plaintiff," "plaintiffs," "plaintiff's," "plaintiffs'"?
- Is your use of any contractions stylistically proper, given the type of work you're writing?
- Have you relied too much on the passive voice?
- Can any sentences be shortened by breaking them in two?
- Are there footnotes that can be moved into the text or omitted entirely?
- Have you attempted to omit all needless words?
- Have you used a large word where a small one will do, e.g., utilize v. use?
- Have you examined each sentence for subject-verb agreement?
- Are all the words spelled correctly?
- Are the case citations complete and accurate?
- Have the cases been Shepardized?
- Are pinpoint citations complete and accurate?
- Are long quotations properly indented?
- Have you proofread carefully, not once but twice (including once backwards, if you desire complete accuracy)?
- Have you responded to all your opponent's arguments, or at least explained why you didn't?
Doubtless there are other editing points I've overlooked. Add them to your own checklist when you think of them.