re: Word to HTML resources

Subject: re: Word to HTML resources
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 09:32:06 -0600

re: I have been given a 46 page internal manual. The persons responsible
for it have asked me to put this online ...

First of all, step back and recognize that something that prints out at 46
pages is too big to put on your intranet as a single html file ... but, it
obviously depends on the time available to perform this conversion.

If you have no time, just perform File/save as html in Word. Despite all
the objections voiced lots of places, it works pretty well. At the
minimum--and if you've created a table of contents in Word--you'll end up
with some links to chapter breaks, etc., which is not so bad. This is,
after all, something of a culture change, and just having a table of
contents that's hypertext links is better than what your users had before in
all likelihood. Also, before you perform this step, try to convert your
major font to Verdana, Arial, or some other sans serif font, since most
"ergonomics" types feel these are easiest to read on a computer screen (as
opposed to times or other serif fonts you've probably used for printing).

In the long run, however, you ought to do it right, and that should entail
breaking the document into multiple, smaller html files. Consider this task
the creation of a site as opposed to a document. Smaller files, especially
if your product contains graphics, will load quicker, your users can create
more useful bookmarks, and they will find printing much easier. (There is,
of course, no such thing as "print current page" with browsers, and it takes
a session with print preview to determine which page numbers to select if
that's the user's goal.)

Now, I'm one that uses a near-Notepad tool for html generation (i.e. I
generate it) and, given that, I'd urge not to discount the notion of
copy/paste when converting the document to html. It's pretty easy to know
that spaces and paragraph breaks don't happen in html without being tagged,
and immediately following your paste all those are visible and it's not so
hard to just insert the tags yourself. At some point your firm will have a
standard template for html on its intranet, and this really facilitates
pasting text between the <body> tags.

Rather so much concentrating on tools, I'd suggest in conclusion that the
important things are to recognize the differences in ergonomics of viewing
documents on a screen vs. printed paper and to recognize indeed the power of
hypertext links. The more links the better, and a major responsibility is
to know the document so as to recognize where the text makes references and
to then convert those words to links and place anchors at destinations. The
best tool for this is simply your intelligence and effort--that's probably
what is envisioned by those who created this assignment. This is really an
opportunity for heroics on your part because when computer systems work
people love them--but it's an opportunity to make enemies (the old way was
better) if your conversion is too simplistic--which is all a conversion
program will create.

Other things to consider ...

Don't not specify fonts--browser users can specify fonts that can destroy
the look of your document if you fail to override this.

You're going to become something of a company tech support or network
specialist because you'll have to learn how much standardization of desktops
exists at your company. Does everyone configure their monitors to 600X800?
Does everyone use IE or Netscape? These things are important to your

You should learn how your intranet search engine works if you have one
because it's good to configure and title your documents for best searching.

You can keep statistics on trees saved.


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