Content checklist

"We are besieged by simple problems ... Checklists can provide protection"

Atul Gawande

Welcome to the content checklist.

There are 27 points to check off on the list. That might sound like a lot, but great content takes a lot of work behind the scenes. The checkpoints are broken down into 6 sections:

  1. Copy
  2. Readability and accessibility
  3. Inclusivity
  4. Calls-to-action and links
  5. Brand and voice
  6. Findability

You can use this as part of your final review or sign off process to make sure your content is *really* ready to publish.

Why a checklist?

Content is a many-tentacled beast. It’s not just about writing; it also encompasses usability, search, accessibility, inclusivity, brand, sales, and more. With all that complexity, it’s very easy to forget things, and for mistakes and omissions to slip in.

Checklists are a simple way to calm the beast and keep track of the tentacles. You can’t remember everything, so outsource the work to a checklist. Pick it up and run through it at the end of your work and you’re likely to pick up all sorts of small improvements you can make. Checklists are also handy if you’re working in a team, to smooth handovers and fill any blanks there might be in someone’s knowledge.

The checklist

1. Copy

  • Have you proofread it, or (ideally) got someone else to proofread it?
  • Have you broken the copy down into easy-to-scan chunks with sub-headers, lists, etc?
  • Are you speaking directly to the reader? (Using ‘you’.) 
  • Are all abbreviations explained when they are first used?
  • Is the information in a logical order? (Most important information first.)
  • Have you fact-checked the information?
  • Have you used the active voice?

2. Readability and accessibility

  • Is the vocabulary appropriate for the audience?
  • Are acronyms and specialist language explained?
  • Are the sentences short and clearly structured? (15 words or less is good.)
  • Are you using sentence case throughout? (‘This is a title’, not ‘This Is A Title’ or ‘THIS IS A TITLE’.)
  • Are you using headings appropriately? (One H1 per page, H2, H3 in sequence, etc.)
  • Do all the images have alt-text?
  • Have you provided text to explain things like maps, charts, infographics?
  • Is the text left-aligned (for left-to-right languages) or right-aligned text (for right-to-left languages)?
  • Does any video content have captions?

3. Inclusivity

  • Have you thought about what unconscious biases you might be bringing to this content?
  • Does it use inclusive language/concepts with regards to race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, and other protected characteristics or oppressed communities?
  • Have you avoided cliches and stereotypes with regards to race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, and other protected characteristics or oppressed communities?

4. Calls-to-action and links

  • Is there a relevant call-to-action or a next step?
  • Have you included relevant internal links in the copy?
  • Are links at the end of the sentence/paragraph? 
  • Is the link text meaningful, specific, and does it start with a verb? (‘See the full content checklist’, not ‘See more’.)

 5. Brand and voice

  • Is it on brand?
  • Is the tone appropriate to the user and situation?

6. Findability

  • Does the keyword appear in the H1 heading, title tag, meta description, body copy?
  • Have you written a unique title tag and meta description?
  • Have you added links to this content from other relevant places on your website?

Further reading

* (This is an affiliate link – if you buy the book using it I make a small commission, and you’ll be supporting an independent bookseller.)

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