Have you ever had situations when your company writers spent too much time on editing?
We discovered that this problem could be detected and solved at the stage of creating article outlines.
Any errors in the outline will make their way into the article, so it should be as accurate and correct as possible.
Closely checking the outline reduces the amount of time that writers spend editing the article. That’s why we came up with our own checklist for reviewing article outlines.
You can use it to check your article plans or show it to employees in your content department.
How We Came Up With the Checklist for Creating an Article Outline
At first, we used Mindjet MindManager for creating article outlines.
Our outlines were large and detailed schemes of articles.
MindManager allowed us to conveniently structure the information, and it was also easy enough to use. For example, our editor could leave edits right in the outline of the article.
It looked something like this.
We also had certain rules for the outline creation process. However, it was not a strict and full-fledged checklist, just a few sentences recorded in a text file.
Several months ago we decided against MindManager and began to create outlines in Google Docs. We did this for several reasons:
- To open files with MindManager outlines, our clients had to install the program, which was an unnecessary hassle.
- To show outlines to those clients who did not have the program installed, we had to save the Mindjet file in three formats: as a MindManager file, PNG, and Google Doc.
These Google Doc files were almost useless, because MindManager automatically adapted the files to the outline format, making the text inconvenient for commenting.
If the client was not completely satisfied with the outlines or did not clearly understand them, he or she didn’t want to leave comments directly in the file, instead of sending them to us by email or telling us on the phone.
When we started using Google Docs for outline creation, we killed two birds with one stone. Our clients no longer needed to install anything, and they could also leave comments very easily.
We have also gradually developed a new outline checklist that we use now, and already are recognizing its advantages.
Why did we do this? Each outline had many typical mistakes, and we wanted to create an algorithm to prevent them.
We wanted to adjust the process of outline creation and write down all the stages of editing so that writers always keep them in mind. This would reduce the number of edits because writers would always know what the editor checks.
Our editor attaches this checklist to the tasks in Active Collab
After the introduction of checklists, we immediately realized these advantages:
- The checklist sets a certain standard for outlines because all points are verified by past experience.
- It is a guarantee that new employees keep their outlines at a certain quality level.
- It makes all writers check themselves before sending outlines to the editor, thereby saving editing time.
This Is The Checklist We Use For Creating an Outline
Now let’s go through each point. We’ll discuss why each point from the checklist is important so you can check your own outlines against them.
- Point #1
This point is necessary for making the outline as short as possible.
Read more: How We Coped with 3 Difficulties While Creating a Data-Backed Post for Our Client: Debriefing the Writing Process
For example, sometimes clients review our outlines and they do not have time to read the outline attentively or dive into the author’s formulations.
Our editor and the expert editor are also interested in having every outline short to save time.
Here are two theses from the outline of our article “Get It, Then Promote It: Our System for Studying Clients’ Software”. They were all adjusted to fit this point of the checklist.
If your outline corresponds to this point, feel free to place an imaginary “checkmark.”
- Point #2
The information that is given in the subparagraph should be related to the subtitle.
The goal is to make sure that the reader who sees only the subtitle will understand the main message of the subparagraph.
- Point #3
The author should not stray too far from the topic of the article.
For example, if the article topic is “How to Create Great Headlines,” all information in the article should somehow help the reader to come up with good headlines.
The article should cover one topic well, not several poorly.
- Point #4
Next, we make sure that we do not make unsubstantiated statements.
For example, if the writer provides some statistics, we leave a link where readers can check all the information. Otherwise, readers may lose trust in our content.
- Point #5
We make sure that the proof is connected with the main point. This also helps make a document with an outline that is more simple and convenient for reading.
That is how it should look.
- Point #6
Make the outline as short as possible. This will save time for your editor while checking the outline.
- Point #7
We make sure that we do not advertise our competitors. It is bad to give any publicity to companies that might take your potential customers.
- Point #8
Now we make sure that readers can check all the facts themselves. The editor can also check all the facts before approving the outline for writing.
- Point #9
The author should come up with several headings that can attract readers. Then the editor can choose the best of the proposed headings.
Coming up with a good headline is an art. It will be easier for the editor to help the writer with the title if he or she has several options to choose from.
Here are the headings I proposed for this article. We chose the last one.
Thoroughly checking the article outline is one of the best ways to make sure that the article turns out to be logical and good overall. It will also reduce the time that your writers spend on editing articles.
Is it possible to create a single standard by which you can check every new article outline? Yes, and the experience of our work proves this.
Based on trial and error, we managed to create a checklist that we use every time we start creating a new article.
You can start using our checklist in your content department and personally check its effectiveness. It consists of 9 items, each of which will help make the article outlines logically clear and simple.
How do you now check the article outlines in your content department? What is your process?