TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Testing your reviewers From:Barb Philbrick <burkbrick -at- AOL -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 15 Jan 1997 19:37:19 GMT
>>I decided that the nice formatting definitely got in the way of
>>reviews, and contemplated producing tech-review drafts using a much
>>format - not wrapping anything much in paragraphs.
I found that it just doesn't seem to matter. I've put questions and
sections I want the engineers to read in huge weird (but still readable)
type and they go right over it - even if they've answered other items on
the same page.
The method I've found that works best is to put questions and
"I-largely-made-this-up-please check-carefully-stuff" in footnotes. If
there are several reviewers, I put the appropriate person's name at the
beginning of the footnote (I put comments to myself in them, too). In one
hideous on-going document I put footnotes that haven't been addressed yet
in conditional text so I can do intermittent releases wihtout losing my
ideas. (The conditional text/footnote option might work as a reminders for
I think this works well because:
1. Footnotes are easy to spot. The reviewer can flip through the bottom
part of the document to find footnotes.
2. I ask the reviewers to please, even if they can't do anything else,
check the questions with their names on them. This lightens their load;
they don't have to read the whole document. I always remind them that I
appreciate other comments as well.
3. If they feel the need to go to a separate page to answer questions,
they can use the footnote number as a reference.
This method has worked well for me with several of my clients. It also
makes me appear more organized, since if I sit down to interview someone
I'm not shuffling through the document and my notes.