RE: Document Review Process

Subject: RE: Document Review Process
From: "Laura Kate Barrett" <Laura -dot- Barrett -at- citizensfla -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2005 12:47:40 -0500

>I am trying to develop a document review process for my division. I am
the lone Technical Writer within a group of scientists (Ph.D. level).

Many writers have varying degrees of success editing their own material,
particularly when schedules prevent the luxury of some period of time
having lapsed in order to have a "fresh" look at the text. I myself am
patently unable to see errors on a second review that follows less than
three days after the first.

My solution is to implement a review/revision cycle for each client's
publications. I present this requirement at the beginning of my contract
as a QA metric/validation/feedback step that must be calculated and
included in the delivery schedule. On average I allow an 8-hour day for
each fifty pages of the document, depending on the density and technical
content of the material.

Competent reviewers are identified by the client prior to the beginning
of the cycle. I offer a thirty-minute review of the change-tracking tool
that the project uses, along with a style guide and a "cheat sheet" of
editors' marks and general guidelines for review (bases for context,
cohesion and correction).

I try to stick to electronic documents for the sanity of version-control
and traceability's sake. For clients who just have to have paper I
produce comb-binder mark-ups that give them a complete sense of both the
change/review process (via inserted review-signature pages) and the
size/complexity of the finished product.

Each publication goes through a draft phase and final phase. Each phase
consists of my first review after completion, the client-reviewer's
pass, and my revision of errors found by the client-reviewer.

The draft phase and the final phase reviews are conducted by different
persons. After the final review, the publication is submitted to a
manager-reviewer for smoothing prior to submission for signature. At
this point, at least four persons have reviewed the document prior to

This is a fairly intense review cycle for a non-writer. However, I've
found that a) the process actually generates a good deal of respect in
the client-reviewers for the technical aspects of turning out flawless
documentation and b) my particular skills as an editor and manager are
increasing as I learn to direct larger projects with more

Laura Kate Barrett


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