First comes brainstorming for ideas that fit the spec. Then writing can begin. During the copywriting stage, finding reliable, solid sources is a must. These can then be used as an aid for the next step – the fact-checking. Whether trivia questions or a book manuscript, it’s essential to check that all the facts are accurate and that there’s nothing libellous in the copy. Fact-checking isn’t just about looking at the obvious facts in a statement, but also the bigger picture. For example, if the text states that Demi Moore was born in 1962 in Roswell, New Mexico, we not only need to check various sources to ensure the date and place are correct, but also that the spelling of Demi’s names and of the place names are correct. We should also verify that Roswell is in New Mexico. Oh, and as much as Wikipedia might be a good starting place for trivia, it’s not a concrete source and needs to be backed up by a reputable website (not a fan site) or book.
At this point it would be wise to communicate with the client and check that the content meets their spec and is what they had in mind. Any revisions can then be done before the text is copy-edited.
Following the copy-editing stage comes proofing. This is the final stage and the proofer is probably the last set of eyes to review the whole text before it goes to print. Some editorial workflows don’t proof before sending text to layout, but particularly in larger projects it’s essential to weed out any final typos or other errors and minimize costly changes once text has gone to layout. The proofer will scrutinize the text looking for objective errors including typos, grammatical errors and formatting. At this stage, we would expect the text to be fairly clean and to flow well, so the proofer is able to concentrate on identifying these objective errors without the distraction of other issues.
Once this first proofing stage is complete, the text can go to layout. Then, before printing takes place there is another proofing check (or, if the client prefers, the only proofing check) where the proofreader checks the text in its final, mocked-up layout format against the original source (whether it be a manuscript, Excel file or Word document, for example). This check is essential as the layout of a book, a website or a board game’s trivia questions can introduce unforeseen formatting errors such as missing text, special characters not appearing correctly or text that is wrapped in the wrong place.
Et voilà, that’s the content creation process in a nutshell.