How to Provide Useful Feedback when Editing Documents

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Two people editing a document.

If you edit documents for your employees or co-workers, ensure you are giving the best feedback possible. Here are ways to be a great editor.

Give Specific Feedback

Employees need to know exactly what they have done right and what specifically needs to be improved. Saying good job isn’t specific enough. Neither is saying something like this could use some work. Writers need more guidance. How can you provide it?

  • Ask specific questions to get writers to think about the effectiveness of the document. For example: Will Council recognize and understand these terms?
  • Recommend changes and give enough direction to help them. For example: This long paragraph has a lot of information. I suggest breaking it up so that the reader can find the key points faster.
  • Point out positive aspects to reinforce good writing habits. For example: The bullet points present the information in a clear and easy to read way. Great job!

Remember to be patient. In the short term, giving feedback might take more time. However, in the long term, it will save hours of editing because this process helps employees develop their skills.

Avoid Changing the Writer’s Style

When editing, do a self-check after you suggest a change. Did you suggest a change to improve the document, such as correcting grammar and typos, making the message clearer or making the tone more positive? Or, did you suggest the change because that’s how you would write it if you were the author?

We all have our own writing style and word preferences. When editing, you need to respect and maintain the writer’s style. Doing so helps build trust, and you’ll find it easier to work with the writers you edit. Unless the writer is using an incorrect style, such as being too formal or informal, leave style alone.

Remembering to be specific and respect a writer’s style will allow the writer to flourish and will create less work for everyone involved.

Marie Antaya avatar

By Marie Antaya, CTDP

Author of The Eclectic Writing Series.