TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Into the Frying Pan From:Daniel Friedman <daniel -dot- friedman42 -at- gmail -dot- com> To:salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com Date:Thu, 1 Oct 2015 08:52:29 -0400
The quick-and-easy answer is to enable Protect Document features in Word
before distributing any documents from your department. You can enable no
edits without track changes (or comments only) and limit formatting changes
to the approved template styles.
The harder answer is the development of proper standards for drafting and
reviewing documents in the organization. Some suggestions would be to
include review stages in document project plans and a signoff sheet
attached to documents with key stakeholders identified.
On Thu, Oct 1, 2015 at 8:22 AM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> *BACKGROUND:* I'm but one publications specialist on a very large scale,
> corporate-run program in contract with New York. Although the corporation
> is known worldwide as an entity intimately involved with business
> documents, it has no official style guide. Well, marketing kinda sort has
> one... but then we've come across several variants on our own. And they
> even formally published one in 1988 that was offered for sale; it smacks of
> very early DTPitis (I was part of the DTP vanguard at the time).
> Our four-person publications department has a lot resting on its shoulders,
> and is (not) being managed by a person who has never run a pubs department
> before. Like half of our small dept., she's been on this job less than one
> full month and is learning as we go along. (Yet there is no time for that,
> as the horse is already out of the barn.)
> (BTW, corporate has equipped each of us with a single, tiny monitor, so
> attempting to speed edit with two docs up side-by-side is a real challenge,
> never mind the fact that we're all stuffed into study carrels (not even a
> normal cubicle). Some are on Office 2013, others 2010, so there's no
> telling why the disparity in system images and licensing.)
> As with any state gig, I suppose, many things are in a quandary (I
> previously saw it while on a Deloitte project withe the CA Dept. of
> Workers' Comp.). Apparently several deliverables were already supposed to
> have been created and approved, including an overall outreach plan that
> includes many items pubs is charged with creating.
> Last week the pubs manager was still taking a leisurely approach to that
> doc, thinking that we only needed to have it roughed out, that the state
> would help us finalize dates and whatnot. It was up to us to first
> discover, then appropriate and thoroughly rewrite, a similar plan created
> in California for a sister program in that state (it was written by a bunch
> of youngsters who still write as if to impress their university
> No SME was involved, so much of the translation of that doc was by guess
> and by golly.
> Surprise! As of Tuesday afternoon, the state was up in arms that the plan
> had not already been finalized, submitted and approved.
> From the roll of her eyes, sighing, and other body language clues, the pubs
> manager knows she's in over her depth but continues with the struggle.
> *PROBLEM*: The version of the 15-pp doc I had created, minus dates, was
> carefully formatted in Word with section breaks, numbered headers and a TOC
> (plus a lot of other pro touches). Unbeknownst to me, it was sent around to
> other departments for markup. There was little agreement among the players
> there, and several did not use Track Changes to mark it up.
> Yesterday morning I was urgently (everything's become URGENT!) instructed
> to sit in on a Webex call with two SMEs, who wanted to do yet another line
> edit. I was supposed to help guide them, collect inputs, and then magically
> assimilate all changes into a perfectly formatted, state-"presentation
> ready" doc by 2:30. The SME conference lasted until noon, and I'm required
> to "punch out" for an hour lunch (I cut my lunch break way short anyway).
> But I soldiered on, being less than pleased with the resultâalthough I gave
> it the yeoman's effort.
> BUT... I found out later in the afternoon that, once I was done, pubs mgr
> had given it to another in our department to reformat it from Arial 11 pt.
> (the true corporate std.) to Arial 10 pt.(what the pubs mgr. found in a
> some PPT, origin unknown). That would have thrown off all of my careful
> page breaks and other typesetting finesses. I didn't see the final product
> before it went back to the state for their OK.
> *SOLUTION*: Other than getting the heck out of there ASAP, what process
> could we have employed in the intra-departmental doc review so as to
> maintain the integrity of the Word doc each step of the way?
> (I've considered distributing a PDF and letting others comment on it, but
> we don't so much as have access to Acrobat Pro. Corporate endorses CutePDF,
> but I've never worked with it. Would the standard Acrobat Reader suffice?
> What other methodologies have worked for you in such a situation?
> Thanks much,
> > Chris
> Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and
> content development | http://techwhirl.com
> You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as daniel -dot- friedman42 -at- gmail -dot- com -dot-
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to
> techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
>http://www.techwhirl.com/email-discussion-groups/ for more resources and
> Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online
> magazine at http://techwhirl.com
> Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public
> email archives @ http://techwr-l.com/archives