by Jennie Ruby
You have a Word document and you need multiple people to review it and get back to you with changes. Both Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat have a "Send for Review" tool. How do you decide which program to use for the review process? Here is an overview of the two programs' tools for reviewing documents.
The Microsoft Word Send for Review tool requires Outlook as your email program. It attaches your Word document to an email message. You send your document to multiple recipients and ask them to review it using Track Changes. Each reviewer completes a review and emails the document back. You then sequentially merge each reviewer's changes and comments into your Word document, where you can resolve conflicts and accept or reject each change.
If your reviewers are slow in getting back to you, you can use Outlook to flag the email message for follow-up for both you and your recipients.
For this kind of review, each of your reviewers must have a compatible version of Word and have a basic knowledge of how to use Track Changes. What is good about this kind of review is that the document stays in Word, rather than being converted to PDF, and Word's Track Changes feature is absolutely the best for tracking precise changes to text. The Comments tool allows for more extensive discussion of the document.
One negative to this method is that if your reviewers disagree with one another, you may be caught in the middle. Another pitfall is that if your document has a lot of graphics, Track Changes may wreak havoc with your layout.
The Acrobat Send for Review tool enables you to invite multiple reviewers to collaborate on a document using cloud technology. Reviewers' changes are "published" to a shared location, and each reviewer can also check for new comments by others and see them just moments after they have been published. This means multiple reviewers can work either simultaneously or sequentially, and see each others' work. If a reviewer disagrees with a change, she can reply directly to another reviewer's comment, and conflicts can be resolved directly.
Positives for the Acrobat method are that your reviewers need only Acrobat Reader [you must have Acrobat Standard or Pro] and that your layouts and graphic placements cannot be altered during the review process. Built-in help screens guide reviewers on how to use the commenting tools. And at the end of the day, you do not have to manually merge multiple documents: all the comments are there for you to see and manage in either list or graphical form.
Negatives are the added step of creating the PDF for review and the clumsy text editing tools. Also, enthusiastic use of the graphical commenting tools by reviewers can result in a messy and confusing screen.
The huge plus for the Acrobat method, however, is that not just Word documents can be reviewed this way. PowerPoint decks, Excel spreadsheets, In-Design layouts, Visio diagrams, and many other kinds of graphically rich files can be edited in the cloud by reviewers with the free Acrobat Reader.
So which review process should you use? For me the key is whether the document has graphics and a precise layout. If it does, Acrobat is the way to go. But if the main concern is the wording of the text? Go with Word.
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