In my last blog post, I discussed some emotional difficulties of accepting feedback on your writing. This post will share a practical suggestion to help you improve the review process, whether you are the reviewer or the author.
For our discussion, let’s assume that you are seeking feedback on a Microsoft® Word document and want to make the review process as productive as possible. I have a simple, fast tip for you: Number your lines!
Why number lines for the feedback process?
When I coach my technical writing webinar learners, I always number the lines in their Microsoft documents before we look at their documents onscreen, especially if the document is long. Numbering lines makes it so easy for a reviewer to say, “John, on line 156 you wrote “troubleshooting” as 1 word, but on line 58, you wrote it as 2 separate words. Which is correct according to your style guide?”
Without the line numbers, I would have had to say, “On page 8, in paragraph 5, 3 lines from the bottom, you wrote….” That can be very time-consuming and annoying, especially if the document is long and the author(s) and reviewer(s) are meeting virtually as we do in my technical writing webinar. I believe that numbering lines in learners’ documents improves the efficiency of our virtual review sessions using GoToMeeting®.
I learned the simple trick of numbering document lines years ago as I prepared for an all-day review session on a 185-page document that I had written for 3M; we had 12 reviewers in that room. Numbered lines helped with the logistics of the process, if not the politics!
How to number your lines in Word
- Click on View and ensure that you are in Print Layout.
- Click on Page Layout and navigate to Line Numbers.
- Pull down the arrow and click on Continuous.
- When you are done with the review, reverse the process to remove the numbers.
To see my demonstration of the process, visit The Text Doctor’s YouTube channel.