12/30/2016 - 3:06 PM

Tiny Content Framework

Tiny Content Framework

Copyediting Checklist

This is a simplification of Amy Einsohn’s checklist in her wonderful book, The Copyeditor’s Handbook.

  • Publisher’s name
  • Preferred dictionary
  • Style manual


Abbreviations and acronyms

  • Latin abbreviations or plain English equivalents
  • Use periods in acronyms or not
  • Use full capitals or not
  • Put term in parenthesis on first mention or define it in parenthesis on first mention
  • State names
  • Dates and times (a.m. or am, etc.)


  • Titles, subtitles, and headings
  • Prepositions within a phrase

Foreign terms, names, and quotes

  • Use English-style plurals or Latin or Greek
  • Delete or keep accent marks
  • Italicize or put quotes around unusual terms

Numbers and numerals

  • Date formatting (beyond acronyms)
  • Decades
  • Spell out numbers under 100, etc.
  • Always use numerals with units of measure
  • Which kinds of units of measure are acceptable
  • Comma usage
  • Spell out sums or money or not
  • Spell out “percent” or not
  • Ranges of numbers


  • Use the serial comma or not
  • Hyphenation: when a closed compound would mislead the reader
  • Possessives, especially with names ending in an “s”


  • Change British spellings (ex: theatre, colour, and endeavour) to preferred American spellings.
  • Spell out contractions or not


  • Cross references
  • Lowercase chapter or uppercase it
  • Spell out the chapter number or not
  • Change cross references to chapters not pages
  • Heads: Do or do not open a chapter with an H1
  • Links
  • Footnotes
  • Lists

Style Attributes

Words to describe good writing (or things to avoid, depending on your style).

  • Accurate
  • Alive
  • Articulate
  • Calming
  • Challenging
  • Clear
  • Clever
  • Compelling
  • Concise
  • Confident
  • Conversational
  • Crisp
  • Direct
  • Eloquent
  • Engrossing
  • Fascinating
  • Fast-paced
  • Fluid
  • Flowing
  • Friendly
  • Generous
  • Heartfelt
  • Honest
  • Illuminating
  • Incisive
  • Informal
  • Insightful
  • Inviting
  • Joyful
  • Layered
  • Light
  • Lively
  • Luminous
  • Moving
  • Nuanced
  • Open
  • Organized
  • Precise
  • Provocative
  • Purposeful
  • Readable
  • Resonating
  • Rhythmic
  • Riveting
  • Simple
  • Slowing
  • Solid
  • Straightforward
  • Strong
  • Thoughtful
  • Transcendant
  • Trustworthy
  • Useful
  • Vibrant
  • Vivid

Editorial Calendar Fields

Pick the ones that work for you.

  • Title
  • Topic
  • Content Type
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Writer
  • Topic Expert
  • Review Date
  • Publish Date
  • Keywords
  • Calls to Action

Project Brief Outline


  • What is the purpose of the project? What happened so far?
  • What do you want people to know? Are there decisions to make?
  • What’s happening next?


  • Values: What does the organization care about?
  • Mission: What is the organization trying to do? What is the ultimate goal?
  • What are the goals of this project?


  • Who are the primary and secondary audiences?
  • What do they need?


  • What do we want to say about the product?
  • What is the narrative?
  • Why should people care?
  • How does the product or service improve lives?


  • What defines the brand? What traits does it have?
  • Voice: What does the company sound like? How does its personality come through?
  • Tone: How does the company feel about their audience? What is the mood? Who is speaking to the audience?

Case Study Questions

  • What is the customer or client’s name and web address?

  • What did you do for them?

  • Who was the audience for your work?

  • What was unique about the project? Did you solve any interesting problems or do something differently?

  • What were the results of the project? Did you improve any metrics?

  • Do you have any quotes or press mentions about the work? Feel free to include links or bulky text.

Product Questions

Good writing takes research. Don’t wait for a muse or a stroke of genius. Get the facts down in all of their messy glory and then go from there.

Gather up the facts

Start by making a list of answers to these questions.

Name and purpose

  • What is it?
  • Who is it for? How will it help them or brighten their day?

Features and facets

  • What can you do with it? Why are these features important?
  • How does it work?
  • Remember your five senses. How does it taste, feel, look, smell, or sound?
  • What is it made of? Why did you pick those ingredients or materials? How can people take care of it?
  • How big is it? Are there different sizes, colors, or formats? What can it hold?
  • Is there anything special about the packaging? Does it pair well with something or make a nice gift?

Pricing and availability

  • How much does it cost? How many pieces are included?
  • Where can you get it?
  • How long does it take to make and package it?
  • What are the shipping options? How long does it take for delivery?

Tell your story

Tell people what’s interesting about the product. Teach them something new and share your enthusiasm.

  • Purpose: How does it fit into your mission and the way you see things?
  • History: Why did you decide to make it? What led you to the idea?
  • Process: How did you make it? What did you learn along the way?
  • Competition: How is it different from other things like it?
  • Reputation: What are people saying about it? What do you want them to say?
  • Use cases: How are people using it?

Arrange and revise

Sketch the points you want to make with pen and paper. Put the most important details at the top.

Write a rough draft and play with different variations. Try reordering or rephrasing things. Be careful to use words people will recognize. Focus on real-world benefits. You can add humor or personality, but clarity comes first.

Read the draft aloud to yourself and cut any white lies or fluff. Keep editing until it’s clear, honest, and sounds like something you’d say to a friend or a neighbor. Tell them how you really feel, and be patient with yourself while you rework the copy.

Product Mad Libs

Write down several words for each of these and discuss them with your client.

{product name} {helps/lets} {audience noun} {verb} and {verb} {object} so they can {verb} {adverb}.

{Sign up for/Join} {product name} to {verb} {plural noun} with {secondary audience noun}.

Starter Questions


  • In 1–3 sentences, what do you do?

  • What’s your favorite thing about it?

  • Can you describe your industry to me? What is it and how does it work?

Mission and vision

  • Why did you start your company (or this project)? What led you to the idea?

  • Why does this work matter?

  • What are your goals for the next 3–6 months?

  • Describe where you want to take people. What does the world look like if you’re successful?

  • For this part of the flow or website, what are the top three goals? What do you want people to do?


  • What do you know about your customers? What do they care about?

  • Why do people use your website or app? Why do you want them to?

  • How do most people find out about you?

  • Are there any specific things that your audience is sensitive about?

  • If a customer was telling a friend about your company, what would you want them to say?

  • What are your core messages? What do you want people to understand?

Brand and personality

  • Who do you see as your competition? How are you different?

  • If your brand was a person, how would you describe them? List as many characteristics as you can think of.

  • Who inspires you online or elsewhere? Who do you want to emulate?

  • Are there any associations that you want to avoid? What would alarm or deter your readers?


  • What tools does your team use to write and publish new content?

  • How do you keep track of feedback during the process?

  • What sort of schedule would be reasonable for removing/updating outdated content (e.g., quarterly, twice a year, yearly)?

Tiny Content Framework

About the project

This is a tiny content strategy framework focused on goals, messages, and branding. This is not a checklist. Use what you need and scrap the rest. Rewrite it or add to it. These topics should help you get to the bottom of things with clients and other people you work with.


There’s more to come, and I’d love to hear what you think. Give me feedback on Twitter (@nicoleslaw) or by email ( We all benefit from sharing our ideas and creating standards. Onward.