How to review documents
- By Fabrice Talbot
In many fields of activity, document review is part of the daily job. Business documents, articles, technical documentation, book content, reports and product specifications have to be revised several times before they reach their final form. Document review work can be very long and troublesome. However, there are several document review tools meant to ease the document revision process.
Before starting your document review process you have to check some things:
1. You have to know at what stage the document is. Is it a first draft? Is it a final draft? Has it been revised by somebody else already? You’ll determine, accordingly, if you should be looking for completeness, appropriateness or just making minor changes.
2. Check to see if it properly addresses your targeted audience. The main points to consider here are the style and language. For example, if you target engineers, the document should contain technical terms and definitions; phrases must be short and concise. But, if you target the management team of a company, the language must be addressed specifically to their needs, with statistics, figures and benefits.
3. What are the goals of the document? Have they been met? If the document is meant to explain a new technology, you have to make sure that all the innovations are clearly pinpointed, in a logical order; or, if the document aims to sell a technical solution, the benefits for users must be explained in a way that is easy to read and follow.
In the document revision process you should also keep these points in mind:
1. Have the marketing objectives been met with this document?
2. Is it technically correct?
3. Is there anything missing?
4. Is it written in active voice and in a concise manner?
Please keep in mind that your changes need to be visible to the original author of the document. So highlight them somehow. In Word, you can use track changes, for example, but make sure that you incorporate all the text revisions of collaborators. If you use an online document review tool, make sure that it has a document revision history feature, so that you can easily see the changes that were made to the original document. Make sure that you assign the responsibilities for collaborators: writer, co-writer, and reviewer so roles will be clear to each participant in the document revision process.
An effective document management system will help you save time and effort.
Give the writer a reason for the changes you have made. This helps the author improve his/her documentation and writing technique for future projects.