Tactics (was RE: (no subject)

Subject: Tactics (was RE: (no subject)
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 12:27:40 -0500

Bryan Sherman noted:
> If you are using blank paragraphs for spacing between
> paragraphs it takes
> away your flexibility in reformating. As mentioned, build the
> paragraph
> spacing in the paragraph. That way changes down the line are
> very easy.
> (this may be a bias for me since I am an itenerant tech
> writer, and never
> now what "font fiddling" a customer may want)
> If you are using blank paragraphs to start new pages, you are
> setting your
> self up for trouble when text is added. You may now have
> pages beginning one
> or two lines down the page. Use a page break (or better yet
> styles that
> automatically start on a new page if it makes sense).

Ok, my dark secret is that I actually have used a sprinkling
of blank paragraphs to move an awkward bit to a new page.

Sometimes I'm in a hurry, and can't take the time to re-think
the entire document, just to get a table to start on the next
page, rather than split at the second of four rows (or whatever).

I know I can apply a page-break, and sometimes I do. But is it
more ugly, after a later edit that inserts some text before
the break, if six blank paragraph markers are pushed to the top
of the next page, or if an entire page is left blank because
a manual page-break got pushed? In my experience, it's often
easier to notice the six blank lines at the top of a page than
to recognize that a blank page is out of place when skimming
rapidly through a three-hundred-page document. (Either one is
easy in a six-page doc)

I try to avoid having to do either, but as documents evolve,
something is always breaking or being made to look ugly, where
it looked fine previously.

What are the "proper" or... failing that... most popular ways
to mitigate what can happen when inserted (or removed) text
causes existing items to break awkwardly or to go places you'd
prefer they didn't? Another occasion is that you've written
a doc with one-or-more instances of a descriptive or instructive
paragraph on a facing page opposite an illustration... then stuff
gets bumped and the illustration is now a page-turn away from the
referring text.

You can force a page-break and leave a three-quarter-page
blankness (that looks like end-of-chapter or some-such),
or you can live with the description/instruction separated
from its illustration.
I haven't decided if flipping a coin is any less effective than
some other decision mechanism. :->

> I don't know exactly what folks meant about corruption (I am
> a Word user, so
> I certainly KNOW corruption in docs <g>) but I can imagine a

I've done this on just a couple of docs, so far, but it seems
to work... We have a house style and template in Word, and
I've been having no end of grief with converted docs that were
done by other people, often former employees of companies that
we bought and "streamlined". I recreated the house style in

When I've had time to do it, I grabbed an existing Word document,
sucked its contents through a text-only editor, and pasted that
into OOo, applying styles as I went. The purpose was to avoid
bringing across _anything_ extraneous, and it seems to work.
It's only been a few months for the oldest of these docs, but
so far, no instability, no corruption, no problems.

The only problem will be in finding the time to launder all my
other Word documents this way. When I occasionally get review
copies back (I export to Word for other people's use if they won't
accept PDF), I do the same process with their edits and recommendations.
A little tedious, but I feel better about doing it this way
than about trying to fix a sudden mess later, with a deadline looming.

Anybody ever "Approve changes" and boot the document out to QA,
only to discover too late that mere text wasn't the only thing they'd
added to your document? And of course, the backup copy is missing
all the frantic activity of the past down-to-the-wire day, with
input from several sources, inspired on-the-fly editing by your
own fine hand, etc.

What prompted me to do the OOo thing was a set of documents (Word)
that had a few dozen normal-looking styles, along with CMS-1 through
CMS-170 and another set of 50-some-odd whose name I don't
recall. But they were applied/scattered randomly throughout the
doc (several hundred pages in each case). I never did figure out
if those were generated by some foul process, "imported" along
with some OLE object, or deliberately created by the writer for
some nefarious purpose (he did know his days were numbered at
the company... but I might be being unfair).
I didn't want that mess corrupting a "good" Word document, and
I certainly didn't want all those hundreds of bogus tags imported
into OOo. So it seemed cleaner (if horribly labor-intensive) to
launder before importing. I also asked the remaining staff in
Burleigh-Heads (Australia) if they see the former writer again
to just quietly feed the sharks.
Is "Consider it done, mate!" a good sign or a bad sign? :-)

WHAT!?! No-no-nooo. You misunderstand. "Feed the sharks" is not
an exhortation to murder. Tsk. It's a zen kind of thing.
Very relaxing. They do it, out that way, as almost a form of
... er... um... medidation. Yeah.

Kevin (in Ottawa, Canada and shark-free at the moment - snow coming, though)

Who's there?
Snowshark, ma'am...

The information contained in this electronic mail transmission may be privileged and confidential, and therefore, protected from disclosure. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to this message and deleting it from your computer without copying or disclosing it.

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList

Now shipping: Help &amp; Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help &amp; Manual: http://www.helpandmanual.com

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40infoinfocus.com

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: RE: [TOOLS] Motherboard and CPU
Next by Author: RE: Shift + Enter
Previous by Thread: Re: Report: "Tech Writing 2.0"
Next by Thread: RE: Tactics (was RE: (no subject)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads