The Reviewers Edition system is a predictable, readable, and computable way to mark versions of useful prose documents, like policies and legal forms. Reviewers Edition numbers give document authors a simple, clear, and concise way to tell document users how much has changed, and what they should review, as documents evolve over time.
Reviewers Editions are written in short codes, like
1e. You can read this code “first edition”—
1 for “first” and
e for “edition”.
12e is “twelfth edition”. And so on.
Publishing an edition, like
9e, followed by a higher-numbered edition, like
10e, sends a specific message to users. Users of
9e should review the entire text of new
10e to decide if it meets their needs, as
Authors often update documents to add or remove material, leaving most of the document the same. Reviewers Editions like
1e1u, read “first edition, first update”, or
10e15u, read “tenth edition, fifteenth update”, describe these changes.
Publishing a new update to an old edition sends a specific message to users. Users of a
10e should compare new
10e1u to old
10e, and review what has changed, to see whether the new update meets their needs. Users of a
10e7u should compare a new
10e10u and review what has changed. But users of a
10e should review a new
11e1u top-to-bottom, since the author used a higher edition number, as well.
Some changes to useful documents don’t add, remove, or change meaningful pieces of language, but merely correct spelling, structural, or other technical errors. Reviewers Editions like
3e1c, read “third edition, first correction”, or
7e11u3c, read “seventh edition, eleventh update, third correction”, describe these changes.
Publishing a new correction to an old edition or update sends a specific message to users. Users of a
10e should prefer to use
10e1c, and can do so without reviewing the changes. Of course, users may always choose to review the changes. But correction numbers in the Reviewers Edition system allow authors to communicate when changes go to correctness, rather than content.
Document authors often create working drafts before publishing. Reviewers Editions like
8e1d, read “first draft of eighth edition”, or
2e1u5c3d, read “third draft of second edition, first update, fifth correction”, describe these drafts.
Publishing a new correction to an old edition, update, or correction sends a specific message to users. Users of a
10e3u should continue to use
10e3u, even when
11e15d are available. Authors working together to create a
13e should review
13e7d instead of old
Reviewers Edition numbers are written as codes, like
3e 4u 1c 2d │ │ │ │ third edition ──┘ │ │ │ │ │ │ fourth update ──┘ │ │ (optional) │ │ │ │ first correction ──┘ │ (optional) │ │ second draft ──┘ (optional)
Changes to the four numbers send different messages to users:
- Increasing edition numbers tells users of lower-numbered editions to review the entire new edition, top-to-bottom, to decide whether it meets their needs.
- Adding or increasing update numbers tells users of lower-numbered updates to review the parts that have changed to decide whether it meets their needs.
- Adding or increasing correction numbers tells users that they should always use the newly corrected version.
- Adding and increasing draft numbers tells users that the particular revision is a new working draft.
Even if you don’t write computer software yourself, you should know that Reviewers Edition codes are easy for computer programs to read and interpret. This makes it possible to write computer programs to analyze documents marked with Reviewers Edition codes.