Do it yourself: Quality assurance in the editorial department

It does not take long to perform your own initial simple quality assessment with the help of a checklist.

© 5second / Fotolia

© 5second / Fotolia

I like a lot of things. I like platypuses, lists, and consistent, standardised documents. The first of these is not important for this article, but the second and third items go together very well. My favourite list is the checklist, because every tick is a tiny success. When I go shopping, I always have a pen with me so I can tick items off my list as soon as I have put them in my shopping trolley. And I would never go on holiday before writing a packing list, where each line has an empty box I can tick, as soon as I have put the item in my rucksack.

At work I am also an enthusiastic writer of checklists. To avoid stumbling across an invalid link or similar as soon as I look at a released PDF, I have drawn up a checklist that helps me check my informational products for formal criteria such as spelling, terminology and illustrative conventions before I send it for review, or before it is hastily published because we are pressed for time. But this method does not pick up on content errors or missing information. So my checklist cannot and should not replace a comprehensive examination; also, it is at least as important to check that the document is complete and technically accurate; something that should be done first if you are pressed for time.

But the checklist is my attempt to standardise my document within a few hours (in my experience it takes at least 4 hours) as best I can and rectify my most serious errors. You can find this checklist and a few relevant explanations in the protected section of our smart space information portal (go here to register).