Online Help Editors?

Subject: Online Help Editors?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Ben <baj357 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2007 14:25:01 -0400

Ben wondered: <<For those of you who edit Online Help written by
other authors, I'd like to ask this question. How do you mark up the
Help and give it back to authors?>>

You have a range of possible solutions. If the help is being written
in Word*, then that's the easiest solution: edit using revision
tracking, review the edits, then compile the final help file. If not,
you can copy or export the text to Word so you can use revision
tracking to clearly indicate changes and insert substantive comments;
it's easy to review the comments and either manually make the same
changes in the authoring software (which risks introducing new
errors) or copy the final text back into the authoring software
(which also isn't perfect, but at least reduces the risk).

* Here and elsewhere, substitute any other word processor that uses
revision tracking, including WordPerfect and OpenOffice, if you prefer.

If you don't want to do the copy/paste bit, and do want to try using
revision tracking, you can sometimes "round-trip" the edits using an
intermediate format such as RTF or HTML that exports neatly from your
authoring software and can be opened in Word. RTF is pretty good for
round-tripping and allows you to use revision tracking. HTML is a bit
trickier (see my description of how to do this in the techwr-l
archives) since you have to basically use Word as an ASCII text
editor rather than as a "save the file in Word HTML format", but it
works very well indeed.

However you proceed, the goal is to clearly indicate changes so that
the authors who must review the changes, see what you've done, and
approve or reject each edit. Details of a range of potentially
suitable approaches are provided in Chapters 12 and 14 of my book
(see link below my signature), plus some thoughts about proofreading
online documents in Chapter 16.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Online Help Editors: From: Ben

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