Second Set of Eyes


#1

For those documentarians who work in one-TW shop, what processes do you have to provide second set of eyes? As an editor, I’m usually the second set of eyes who will spot any inaccuracies and/or errors, but when I’m authoring an article, it’s hard to catch my own errors.

Today I caught myself publishing an article titled, Extend Accounts for Expiring Users with No Profile. After a moment of ghastly reaction, I retitled the article as, Extend Account Expiration Date for Users with No Profile.

I don’t plan on becoming a Tech Writer for a funeral home. :hankey:


#2

Like a lawyer who acts as his own attorney and has a fool for a client, your best option is always a second set of eyes.

If you don’t have that, your next best option is to set your work aside for a minimum of four hours. Overnight is far better. You need enough temporal distance to be able to read your own work with fresh vision.

If you don’t even have a few hours before your work must be published, finish your work, start at the beginning, and read it to yourself aloud. Don’t fake it—move your lips and use your voice.

If you can’t do any of these three things, pray to the deity or saint of your choice! :wink:


#3

The other thing that I’ve done in this situation is to ask anybody else to take a look, regardless of their formal role or background – PM, dev, QA can all be your friends not just for technical accuracy but even for language/grammar or organization. Especially wrt wordsmithing, it’s ultimately up to you whether you take their suggestions, but sometimes even the most wrong-headed feedback can help you rethink things.

But what John said – especially about reading out loud. Really out loud – don’t use your illusion of an “accurate voice in your head” (a phrase PM actually used in conversation with me yesterday).


#4

For us, QA considers docs part of the product. They read the docs as part of their tests. So I make a habit of including a QA in the reviews of my docs.


#5

I have been solo for 14 years. When you have a guinea pig around it’s nice, but sometimes proofers are impossible to find.

I use Spellcheckplus.com, it sorts of analyzes the text also. I also have a checklist for the final review. Some things you really need to check separately. Inevitably you will find more errors if you use a list. For example, do one run to find double spaces, you will look for other typos at the same time. Then look for a wrong term you have noted in another run. The wrong-term-eye only has to be turned on, and you will find more. The trick is to not try to see everything in one session.

Then follow John’s trick to wait. I would add that reading out loud is good for auditives; for visuals, you could print it for final review and dig out the good old red ink pen. Preferably in another set, like your couch.


#6

I’ve used the screen reader or text-to-speech aspects of Acrobat to read the document to me while I follow along in the source. Not perfect, but it’s harder to skip over words like the example when you hear it than when you read it.

Ideally, you can get another set of eyes (like those that you find in a good editor), but when you can’t, it’s good to have some alternatives.