Writing tip: Stage 4 of your editing system—technology check

Stage 4 of the editing process is usually omitted, with dire consequences for searchability and accessibility.

For many editors, a technology check is a new task, an unknown process, one they didn't learn about at school or university.

But somebody has to do this job, and all too often the writer has messed up badly. You, the editor, can save the day.

Check that the document's technology is easy to find and accessible to people with a disability. This will also make it more likely that the document can be saved as an accessible PDF.

The tasks will vary according to the word-processing software or CMS being used. For example, here are a few things the editor should check and fix in a document in Microsoft Word or Open Office Writer.

  • Metadata: are Properties complete and accurate?
  • Styles: is each item of information styled according to its function, e.g. Heading 1 or Title
  • Tables: are tables small, symmetrical, and used for data only? are cells correctly styled?
  • Lists: are lists correctly styled?
  • Images: are images an appropriate size and format? do they have alternative text?
  • Does the file name make it easy for anyone to identify what the document is about or for?
  • File format: is the file format easy to share across platforms? Is the file small enough?
  • File name: does the file name clearly show the document's topic or purpose?

This technology check will simplify the final stage of editing: proofreading.

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