1. Do not over mix the dough
Beat the sugar into the butter, margarine or shortening. Eggs are then added one at a time. Finally, flour and dry ingredients added. Cookies have little or no liquid ingredients so the dough is stiff compared to a muffin or cake batter.
2. Refrigerate the dough
Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or until cold. You can leave them over night in the refrigerator and bake in the morning if you like. Most cookies have a high fat content, and if left out at room temperature they will spread more than you may want when baked. Cold dough will give you a soft chewy cookie.
3. Prepare your cookie sheet / pans
Use a silpat, parchment paper or spray with a vegetable oil. Do not use butter it will cause the cookies to burn on the bottom. After removing the cookies from the oven let them sit on the cookie sheet for one minute to firm up and finish baking. Then remove to a cooling rack. Allow the cookie sheet to cool completely before putting the next batch of cookies on the sheet. Multiple pans solve this issue.
4. Use a cookie scoop
This makes each coolie the same size allowing for even baking. Space each cookie on the sheet to allow for spread, that may mean you will have to bake an extra sheet but they will all be uniform and pretty.
5. Don't over bake
Cookies bake in a short time, generally 8 to 15 minutes usually at 350 degrees to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.Cold dough may add a few minutes to the baking time. They can burn very easily, and they can be deceptive by looking under baked when in fact they're perfect. Many cookies rise a little bit, but usually collapse a bit when pulled from the oven. If you want soft chewy cookies under bake them, they will continue baking on the sheet. Crispy cookies leave a little longer in the oven.