Editing .pdfs - to do or not to do is the question?

Subject: Editing .pdfs - to do or not to do is the question?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, HSC Italian <twins398 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 10:45:20 -0500

Heidi Colonna wondered: <<...we have a new editor. We are in the process of getting an editing process into place. I've been a writer for well over a decade and in my expience the rule has always been this: "editing the .pdf of a document is not an option". The rule I am accustomed to is that any changes to the document are to done in the source file, ONLY, then a new .pdf is generated from the corrected source file.>>

That's the safest and most efficient way to do the work; PDFs are painful to edit, you can't incorporate the changes in the source document (which leads to the PDF gradually drifting out of synch with the source document), and you can't do any significant editing beyond correcting simple typos.

The first point isn't an issue if there are very few edits (see next paragraph). The second point is a huge issue if you plan to revise and update the source document in the future, because somone will have to hunt down the edits to the PDF and add them to the source file. The third point completely eliminates PDF as a revision mechanism if, like me, you do heavy developmental and substantive editing.

However, PDFs are an elegant way to exchange files for _proofreading_, with the corrections returned to the holder of the source file for incorporation in that file and regeneration of the PDF. This works for two reasons: First, because in a well-edited document, the corrections at the proofing stage will be relatively minor and the inefficiency of having to retype them in the original document is tolerable. Second, because experience has taught me that the only safe way to proofread a document is in its actual final format (laid out and in the correct medium, whether printed or online).

<<The editing process that is being proposed is this, if a document has changes the editor can make the changes in the .pdf and at the same time the writer can make the changes to the source.>>

The usual reason for this kind of suggestion is that the editor isn't comfortable with onscreen editing, most commonly because they don't know how to do it or because they have medical problems of some sort that prevent them from working painlessly with keyboard and monitor. If the latter is the case, and the editor is good at their work, working on PDF printouts might be a kindness and a good way to retain a talented editor you might not otherwise be able to keep. Sometimes it's also a case of the software (e.g., Frame) not having any kind of decent revision tracking mechanism, thereby making it hard to collaborate on a document.

If this is just a matter of the editor not having experience with editing in Word (or WordPerfect), the solution is to train them. Drop me a line for more details.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

Editing .pdfs - to do or not to do is the question: From: HSC Italian

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