8 Essential Criteria For Assessing Quality In Your Writing

An 8-point checklist for assessing the quality of your professional writing

Posted Sep 19, 2013

A while back I asked a highly accomplished colleague, "How do you know when your writing is good enough to make it public?" With her masterful efficiency and confidence she responded, "Great question, let's figure that out right now!" By the end of that call we'd established an 8-point guideline. Whether you're blogging for Psychology Today or writing a self-help book, the following checklist can significantly boost the quality of your content.


1. Does your writing provide value? Your audience is investing their precious time so how are you rewarding them? Are you giving them something to think about? Providing information they've never heard? Making them smile? 

2. Is your work respectful of your audience? Like in medicine, first do no harm. Avoid the pitfall of ranting and instead develop a thoughtful argument to support your idea. Avoid yelling at your readers or talking down to them. You and your readers are equals regardless of the opinion you're expressing.

3. Does your writing target the right audience at the right time and place? You risk losing your audience if your work feels scatterbrained, awkward, or out of place. Think of your overall body of work and then ask yourself if your piece of writing fits in. Does it boost or detract from your brand or professional message?

4. Is it concise and reader friendly? Support your ideas with specific detail and do so without all the fluff. Keep in mind the old saying, 'show don't tell'. Bullet points, checklists, and images help lighten the heaviness of a narrative and provide your readers' eyes with a resting point.

5. Is it clearly relevant to the services you provide? Regardless of the story you're telling or the information you're providing, you ultimately want to attract an audience to your services. Does your writing actually connect readers to your services or do you just like seeing your words in print? Ouch. 

6. Does it enhance or detract from your unique voice? Does your writing sound authentic or are you trying to be somebody you're not? Readers will see right through that. Your style and voice will be honed over time, but as long as it feels authentic you're probably on the right track.

7. Who's really the focus? Does your writing have "Dear diary" syndrome? Does every one of your paragraphs begin with "I"? Count up all your "I", "Me", and "My" pronouns and then ask yourself who the writing is really about. You must involve your reader. Go ahead and tell stories that make your writing personal, but make sure you're providing value to your reader—see #1.

8. Does it contain a call to action? So they read your piece, what next? Will you invite them to your website or to purchase a book you've written? Ask them to follow you on social media? You don't have to beat your readers over the head and drag them back to the cave. Finesse a simple call to action at some point in the work, like this:

Do you like reading about writing? Read my article about blogging in which best-selling authors Seth Godin and Neal Pasricha answer the question, "Why do you blog?"

Ready to publish an article or blog that will attract as much readership as possible? Check out the excellent article, "The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post[...]" by Kevan Lee.

Special thanks to Glenda Haskell for her years of wonderful collaboration and coaching.