Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top


Can someone please give me a list of things to check when reviewing a document to make sure that it is atomic.


Meaning that anyone can start reading at any section in a document and not have other portions of the document be dependent on some other portion of the document. (Unless it is explicitly stated within the section they are reading, to read another section)

share|improve this question

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Mar 20 '11 at 18:36

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

I’m not sure this is quite on-topic — it seems to be about content-structuring in a specific style of technical writing, not specifically about language or usage. It might be more on-topic for writers.stackexchange, perhaps? – PLL Mar 20 '11 at 15:59
Yes, please put this great question at Writers. We need some over there! – Kelly C Hess Mar 20 '11 at 16:02
  • All terms are defined within the section.
  • Either no outside references or optional ones, or include the information so the reader doesn't have to reference anything.
  • Any background or history necessary to understand the material in the section is included.
  • If applicable, include a paragraph with predictions about the future of the material or potential uses.
  • Optionally, any potential controversies or questions regarding the material are at least acknowledged, if not necessarily debunked.

As a final check, compile your document with random sections, hand off to a beta reader, and ask the reader if anything led to a term which wasn't defined. Re-compile with different sections, lather, rinse, repeat.

share|improve this answer
Your checklist has two items so far, and one to verify the good functioning of the two before it. It'd be good to get the last item out of the list, I think it doesn't belong (in the list, I mean. It does belong in the answer). – iajrz Mar 21 '11 at 2:48
@iajrz: okay, point taken. Edits above. better? – Lauren Ipsum Mar 21 '11 at 12:09
Yup, wonderful!! I didn't mean to sound harsh or rude, I really like your answers... just figured as I can't give a better answer I might as well help your answer be even better. :D – iajrz Mar 21 '11 at 12:25
@iarjz: not at all. Constructive criticism is always welcome. :) – Lauren Ipsum Mar 21 '11 at 13:20

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.