Address All Revisions and Comments
Back in the Word 2000 days, skipping the comments made more sense. You almost had to rip Word apart to find the darned things. For some amazing reason, even when they’re in colored balloons out in the margin, comments are still easy to skip. In fact, when I first proposed this article to my editor, here’s what she said: "One thing that I beg you to include is the advice to use Comments carefully. For some reason, a lot of authors seem to skip reading comments."
She didn’t mean me, of course. Ahem. But she did start me thinking about how many manuscripts I’d sent out with my comments to others—manuscripts that came back with questions unanswered and issues unresolved. When this happens, the only option is to reroute the document to the offending parties. This is a serious time-muncher. So when you get a document with comments, make sure that you’re not leaving any behind. But what do you do when other people are ignoring your comments?
When sending a document with comments to other people, I ask them in the accompanying email to remove the comments as they resolve them. That makes it easier for them to see that every issue has been answered. And it’s not a bad idea when receiving those documents in the mail to check the comments immediately. You will get much better response re-asking your question at once because 1) the writer is still thinking of the document, and 2) the writer may feel self-conscious for skipping the comment.
In related news, if you’re the party responsible for cleaning up a document for distribution or publication—the last hand that will touch it—it’s your responsibility to ensure that all revisions and comments have been scrubbed.
Leaving in revisions can have disastrous results. Some high-profile cases in recent years have shown that the results can be embarrassing at best, as when a computer security specialist found 500 white papers posted on Microsoft’s own site that had not cleared all the revisions and comments. Some were worth wincing over. At worst, this kind of error can be legally damaging.