Re: HELP! A monumental pickle

Subject: Re: HELP! A monumental pickle
From: Kathleen MacDowell <kathleen -at- writefortheuser -dot- com>
To: Kirk Turner <royj -at- alltel -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 7 Jan 2006 07:15:01 -0600

First, take a deep breath (and maybe a short nap:-).

>From working with Word and old/rewritten docs for years, I strongly
suggest that you first get everything into a text format, however you
can. I see you've received lots of suggestions about how to do
that--try whatever method you can on small bits of the doc if
possible, to see what works best. It might help to apply the Normal
style to everything before you copy it to a text file, but I wouldn't
stop at app of the Normal style. Also, don't work with the old files
any more than you absolutely must (as if you need that suggestion:-).

After you have everything in text format, set up a very simple
Word/FM/whatever template and copy the text files to sections or
chapters. To emphasize something you probably already know, with large
docs, it's best to work with sections and/chapters. This is especially
true with Word.

I think turning off the versioning is a good suggestion, but I'm not
sure about accepting all changes. In theory that should help, but I'd
surmise you'd have to go back and check what happened, which would eat
lots of time. Otherwise I agree with everyone else's comments.

One thing I would add: When working with old rewritten docs in Word,
I've found that old "Frame boxes" can cause inordinate
problems--they're hard to locate and they move around and screw up all
your formatting without any apparent reason. To my recollection,
changing the doc to text didn't do any good--I had to search through
the doc multiple times to find them all. The easiest way to tell if
there are frames is if there's something odd about the formatting that
you just can't fix. Unfortunately it's been quite a while since I had
to deal with that, so I can't give you any hints about dealing with
them if you run into that.

Good luck!


On 1/6/06, Kirk Turner <royj -at- alltel -dot- net> wrote:
> I have a serious problem that I hope sounds familiar to someone out
> there. First, a little background. I am editing a massive manual for the
> state although I am an independent contractor for a corporate project
> management firm. So far, I have edited the submissions from 15 different
> authors into very rough drafts that were uploaded to a Yahoo site for
> peer content review only. No one ever logged into the site but to look
> at their own document.
> Of course, the state's people forgot that the sections were rough
> drafts. Suddenly, they want the manual MONDAY--they say it's all on
> Yahoo anyway, isn't it? This manual with appendices will run 800-1000
> pages. In addition, they want links to the appendices.
> So I began to assemble the manual yesterday. Immediately Word began to
> crash frequently. I unchecked the spelling and grammar checkboxes in
> Options, which usually helps. Word continued to crash at a frightening
> rate. I upped my virtual memory, and the crashes continued. I have a 3.6
> gig computer with 1 gig of memory and a 200 gig fast hard drive--it
> should be able to handle almost anything; I have no viruses of Trojans.
> This morning I think I have found the problem. This manual is meant to
> be both a reconciliation and an upgrade to an existing patchwork system
> of contracts and old manuals that don't address all of the current
> issues facing capital construction in my state. The "authors," who are
> the top architects and construction managers in the state, evidently cut
> and pasted major sections of the old contracts and manuals into their
> sections. Sometimes the paste WAS their section. When I put the manual
> together I turned on the "Styles" pane, and saw hundreds of styles in
> use from the old contracts and manuals. I think that the combination of
> the multitude of styles and the size of the document has overwhelmed my
> computer. Every time Word crashes, I open the document or recover it,
> and some of the styles have reverted to their previous state throughout
> the entire document, and I have to begin anew even though I have
> acquired the habit of saving the document at a compulsive rate since the
> crashes began--makes no difference. I can't get through 30 pages without
> Word crashing
> The Governor mandated this manual last January, and the state brought me
> aboard in November. Even though they have had ten months, and I two,
> this thing is squarely on my shoulders with three days left. Needless to
> say, if I fail, this will be a public failure in full view of my
> industry. As an independent contractor, I'll be ruined. On top of
> everything else, there are powerful people who don't want his manual to
> see the light of day and are undermining me politically, but I digress.
> Maybe I should practice saying "Do you want some fries with your order?"
> It might be more constructive for my future.
> Should I just paste the entire thing to WordPad and start from scratch?
> I tried that once, and Word crashed yet again and couldn't complete the
> paste. I tried deleting the styles, and the manual became
> incomprehensible and even more unstable. Is there a simple solution (I
> wish) to this? If I could just stabilize Word, I could do this . . .
> maybe. All I need is a polished first draft by Monday to show the
> Governor's people. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? My Word
> program is an OEM, and I don't have the disk. And please don't suggest
> that I read the riot act to someone; I don't have the leverage.
> Needless to say, I need expert advice. I have never been more thankful
> for this forum.
> Any thoughts?
> Kirk

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HELP! A monumental pickle: From: Kirk Turner

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