Format overrides; was: RE: Top 10 mistakes unstructured FrameMaker Users make

Subject: Format overrides; was: RE: Top 10 mistakes unstructured FrameMaker Users make
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2010 08:30:30 +0200

One of my all-time pet peeves involves writers who override styles to
"clean up" formatting issues. The result is a document that is an
incredible mess in trying to update later.

I once had a document to update that was several thousand pages long.
It had gone through *many* successive tech writers (using that term
generously)--apparently, each of whom had done their own formatting of
individual elements until the result was an atrocious mess--impossible
to produce without numerous hard to find errors. Even page headers and
footers were often the product of individual formatting.

In the end, believe it or not, the most time-efficient method was to
reduce the whole mess to text and reformat it from top to bottom, as
it was a key document updated and re-released every six months for a
product expected to last fifteen to twenty more years.

The final result was a completely clean Frame doc that reproduced
flawlessly, with page numbers, headings, TOC, and the rest all
autogenerated correctly after any alterations.

As a result, I became rather adamantly opposed to the "ad hoc"
formatting so common by the clueless.

Even worse, though, is the usual situation with Word. Docs which must
be touched by multiple people rarely have a reasonable style setup.
Word is entirely too willing to create new styles on the whim of
anyone working with it. Documents that are circulated for critique or
which have multiple authors are often incredibly messed up in the
styles department--and, again, getting everyone on board to using
styles throughout (let alone the same set of styles) is somewhat
asking to trying to teach a three-legged person to do the two-step
without it inevitably turning into a waltz...


>> 7. Manual character and paragraph formatting

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