Take Your Document for a “Test Drive”

Posted on: October 26, 2009

How does a writer measure performance against intent?

Start with a general review of the document to get a sense of how it flows. Does anything in the document puzzle you? Does everything have a purpose?

To help answer those questions, check the document against the project requirements and specifications — remember those? You and the project team established them way back during the planning phase, and you have been using them to guide all of your work on the document. Now is their moment to shine as the indispensable “yardsticks” they are in measuring the results of your work. If the document meets all project requirements, it is one large step closer to success.

Next, compare the approved outline to the document’s table of contents. They should be identical, or very similar, in their content and sequencing. As you read through the document, you should get the feeling that information is presented in a coherent, meaningful pattern.

Another vitally important checkpoint is to have a qualified reviewer try to use the document for its intended purpose and report the outcome to you. For example, if the document is a user manual for a software application, can the reviewer successfully complete all tasks, procedures or other operations as explained in the document?

A “test drive” or two will help you discover any deficiencies in your document (before your customer does!) and give you the opportunity to make improvements.


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