750-page Word Doc

Subject: 750-page Word Doc
From: Susan Tamaoki <tamaoki_s -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 09:57:58 -0700 (PDT)

The 750-page document without formatting that you described is fairly typical at the corporation where I work. We have a lot of "experts" who have product or customer knowledge, but really don't write well or know how to use Word.
When our department is given a document like this, we discuss the changes we would like to make and usually the customer is relieved that someone else will be responsible for cleaning up the document and making them look good. We also go over some guidelines on writing procedures, why we want a TOC that can be automatically generated, why we use styles, why we have a style guide, and so on. To help get buy in from the customer, I usually show samples of our templates and go over some basics in our style guide. If you don't have a style guide, then I suggest creating a project style guide.
When I get a document like this, it sometimes is just easier to think of it as a reference document and just start over.
When I'm given this kind of project, one of the first deliverables I create is a sample chapter with the new format and revised text. I usually ask the customer to sign off on the formatting and style guidelines used in the sample. I try to make it clear that this is the time to make changes to the fonts or styles because any changes done later on will result in hours of rework that they will be billed for. 
Because of time constraints, the final document will have an automatically generated TOC and will have a new format, but rarely will have an index. The lack of an index bothers me, but that's the way things work here. When I can, I try to add the index at a later release.


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