Reviewing is the process of providing feedback on material produced by another writer (or group of writers). Changes are not made in the material but can be provided in the form of:
  • A separate document or email that contains the feedback
  • Comments within the documents itself
  • A face-to-face discussion

Defining a review

Which issues are covered in a review, and which are fixed or pointed out during the  editing process? That must be agreed upon by the parties who are involved. Most commonly, reviewers concentrate on the content, accuracy and structure of a document. Issues of spelling, grammar, stylesheet and style guide compliance, indexing, etc. are left to the editors. However, some writing teams prefer to cover issues, including those normally included in the editing process, in the review process. This is usually a learning experience for the writer and can be particularly appropriate for novice technical writers. It can be useful, because inadequacies or misunderstandings concerning the stylesheet or style guide can be discovered and eliminated. It is important that some part of the review process (or editing process) includes:
  • Content
  • Structure and layout
  • In help systems:
    • Linking between topics
    • Inclusion in the table of contents
    • Inclusion in browse sequences
    • Appropriate indexing
  • In books or other large documents:
    • Linking between sections
    • Appropriate indexing

Benefits of the review process

Regardless of exactly what is included in the review process, there are many benefits.
  • A reviewer sees things from a different perspective and can find ways to improve the content.
  • By following a checklist, the reviewer checks things that the writer might have neglected.
  • The review process ensures that writers continue to learn and improve their skills.
  • As reviewers are often writers themselves, it is a learning experience.