Coordinating a document review can be a tedious process. However, the task is even more difficult when reviewers work in another location and can't quickly exchange comments via paper. Fortunately, technology is presenting writers with new options for handling off-site reviews.
Here are some of the options to consider when working with off-site reviewers.
- Create a PDF of your document and provide it to a shared network location, or email it to reviewers. Reviewers can then use Adobe Acrobat's robust review features to add comments to the PDF. If you use the latest version of FrameMaker, you can import review comments directly into your document and edit them.
- If you work in Word, you can share the file via email or network and reviewers can use Track Changes to insert their changes into the file. The Track Changes feature allows you to accept or reject reviewer changes on a case-by-case basis or all at once. You can merge changes into your original document, or just use the tracked changes as a go-by copy if you wish to incorporate them manually.
- If Word's Track Changes feature isn't your cup of tea, you can use the Compare feature to see what reviewers have changed. Just compare the file containing each reviewer's changes to your original to see what edits were made.
- Use a wiki. Many collaborative wiki-like tools have revision tracking so that you can see who has made changes. Also, this allows reviewers to see each others' comments during the review, so they have a chance to respond; this isn't possible if they all look at a separate copy of a document.
- Invest in a document repository tool with version tracking. Such tools allow you to add a document to a repository, specify reviewers, and then automate the review process. The tool will track revisions and handle reminders for each reviewer.
- Stick with email, and develop a simple notation that reviewers can use for submitting comments. For example, ask them to include the page number and then a short description for each change. Use strikeout and underline formatting to indicate deletions and additions.