Documentation Review Strategies?

Subject: Documentation Review Strategies?
From: Megan Golding <mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 12:31:03 -0400

What strategies do you employ in getting real review and feedback on your

What can a writer do to foster high quality review after writing a document
and sending it out to reviewers? I seem to get mired in the waiting for
feedback stage. I know my reviewers have the best of intentions, but
(frankly) my docs aren't their primary job responsibility.

My reviewers are fellow employees, representing other teams in our company.
I am the lone tech writer, so these folks are my only possible reviewers. I
realize a huge bonus from this strategy: my reviewers look at the doc with
their own biases (marketing, sales, customer service, etc.) and give
feedback accordingly. When the process works, I love it! Having a technical
support person tell me a procedure is missing a (seemingly minor but very
important) step is very useful.

One strategy I found recently that helps is to hand out sections of my
document as I write it. For example, the first chapter is a technology
overview, contains "who to contact" bullets, and style issues information.
This info is well-suited to Marketing and Customer Service review. I gave
Chapter 1 to a subset of my reviewers as soon as it was done. I didn't
bother my technical reviewers with this introductory information. Instead,
the tech reviewers come in on Chapter 2, where the installation information

I've found this technique helps my case -- tech reviewers don't burn out on
chapter 1 and stop reading. No one reviewer is asked to read more than 10 to
15 pages at a time.

While my new "chunking" technique helps, I'm only about halfway to where I
want to be in getting good review feedback.

Ideas? War stories? Tips on what not to do?



Megan Golding | mgolding -at- secureworks -dot- net
Technical Writer | SecureWorks, Inc.


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