Has anyone reviewed or edited using PDF marked up by Acrobat tool s? (take II)

Subject: Has anyone reviewed or edited using PDF marked up by Acrobat tool s? (take II)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2003 08:26:00 -0400

Jean Hollis Weber responded to my comments by noting that I'd responded to
the wrong question. As we say in the editing profession, "stet happens". <g>
But sometimes the right question is the one that wasn't asked:

<<Your suggestions are good advice, but they are rather like answering
someone's question about Word by saying "change to FrameMaker">>

Understood. Because you were getting good advice on how to edit well in PDF,
I took a different tack. Sometimes the answer to a question really is "don't
try to do it well--don't do it at all". That's the side of your question
that wasn't addressed, so I jumped right in with both pens blazing. <g> For
heavier edits, PDF is entirely the wrong tool. For light edits, the advice
you've been given is quite sensible and effective.

<<Further down in your note, you seem to be suggesting a combination of RTF
(for the text) and PDF (for the diagrams).>>

Yup: RTF, for all its sins, is a pretty good exchange format for most
documents. HTML can work too, since nowadays just about everything exports
HTML--but the export facilities aren't as mature as those for RTF, and
editing an HTML file using revision tracking is awkward at best. You can do
it, but it's messy and you risk inadvertently damaging tags.

<<That seems like a potentially useful way to work electronic editing into a
department workflow, at least in some situations, for example when the
editing is done before page layout (as occurs with most commercial
publishers, in contrast to many software development companies).>>

As you note, layout is entirely the wrong time to be doing editing,
particularly if you use different writing and DTP software (see my next
point). Among other things, last-minute edits risk breaking things that were
carefully reviewed by SMEs and experts, and often have ripple effects
throughout a document. The risk is greatest when the person doing the final
edits is unaware of the reasons for certain changes made earlier in the
review process.

<<In my original note I failed to mention one other scenario: the editor
makes a few last-minute changes _to the PDF itself_ instead of sending the
edits back to the writer to incorporate them and regenerate the PDF.>>

While that can be done, I strongly recommend not doing it. The problem is
that you end up with two documents (PDF and--say--Word) that are now out of
synch. At some point, someone will want to revise or update the original
file, and because the edits haven't been incorporated in that file (only in
the PDF), they'll probably get missed. (Rationale: They were missed the
first time, before generating the PDF, so they'll probably be missed again.
We all have our blind spots!)

If the edits done to the PDF are at all significant, you should ensure they
also get made in the original document--which is easy to forget if you edit
only the PDF. This is not a trivial point; you'd be surprised how quickly
documents drift out of synch when there are last-minute edits being done.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"Wisdom is one of the few things that look bigger the further away it
is."--Terry Pratchett


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