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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.9

Revising Content

When you are satisfied with the organization of your document, review your document to ensure that all information is accurate, complete, and comprehensible. Check to see that the information is relevant to your document's purpose and to your audience's use. The efficient exchange of information from writer to reader is one of the main objectives of all technical writing.

Because revising content may significantly alter parts of a document, experienced writers review and revise the content thoroughly before they begin to edit for style, usage, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Questions About Content

Read through your draft slowly, stopping at the end of each section, and ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is the information accurate?
    1. Are there any incorrect data entries?
    2. Are all outside sources documented? Is all information from outside sources either paraphrased or quoted exactly and enclosed in quotation marks?
    3. Are any graphics misleading?
    4. Add up all tables in both the horizontal and the vertical directions to make sure the numbers balance. Similarly, add up all percentages in graphics and tables to check, if appropriate, that they add up to 100 percent.

  2. Is the information complete? Have you omitted any facts, concepts, equations or processes necessary for the document's aim and for the audience type and the audience's purpose?
    1. Is all quantitative information presented fully?
    2. Are all concepts explained in the detail appropriate for the document's aim and for the audience type and the audience's purpose?
    3. Are there any steps missing from instructions, procedures, or descriptions of processes?

  3. Is any irrelevant information included in the document?
  4. Is the information comprehensible to your audience?
    1. Are all technical terms that need to be defined for your audience clearly defined?
    2. Are all technical terms used correctly?
    3. Are all technical terms used consistently?
    4. Do you always use the same term to refer to something?
    5. Are all acronyms explained when first used?
    6. Is the density of information appropriate to the expertise and purpose of your audience?

Strategies for Revising Content

  1. Correct any inaccurate quantitative data or other information.
  2. Add further information, explanations of concepts and processes, and instructions necessary for your document's aim and audience.
  3. Delete from the body of the document any information that is unessential and unimportant to most of your readers. If the information will be important to some of your readers, include it in one or more appendixes.
  4. Clarify technical terms.
    1. Replace any term that is used incorrectly.
    2. Replace any vague terms.
    3. If a single term is used to refer to two or more separate items, replace the term with separate terms for each item.
    4. If two or more terms are used to refer to a single item, choose the best term and replace all occurrences of the other terms with the one you have selected.
    5. The first time you use an acronym or an abbreviation that may not be familiar to all your readers, write out the complete term followed by the acronym or abbreviation in parentheses.
    6. Consider adding a glossary if you use many terms with which some readers may not be familiar.

  5. Separate important technical terms and concepts so that your audience may easily digest the material.

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