Re: help on writing-editing work flow

Subject: Re: help on writing-editing work flow
From: Susan Gallagher <Susan_Gallagher_at_Enfin-SD -at- RELAY -dot- PROTEON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1993 17:53:00 EST

Reply to: "Janet Jeffery, UT Aus" <JJEFFERY -at- UTXVMS -dot- CC -dot- UTEXAS -dot- EDU>

original message:
I'm working with a team of writers and one desktop publisher in a state agency.
The team is rather new and we are trying to put together an optimum work flow
process from the interview with the programmer all the way to the final edit.
I have always been the only writer-editor-desktop publisher on board in previous
jobs so am at a loss when understanding how a team works together to produce
one book. Some of the writers can double as editors but we anticipate something
of a bottleneck if we only have one desktop publisher and the writers themselves
quit doing that part of the project.

If any or all of you who have worked on a team can tell me how you handle this,
I would appreciate it. My e-mail address is jjeffery -at- utxvms -dot- cc -dot- utexas -dot- edu -dot-
Thanks, Janet Jeffery

I've worked both as a single writer and as part of a team, and yes, there's a
world of difference between the two roles. There could possibly be a
bottleneck at the DTP end of the project if only one person is there to support
the whole team. This will depend on scheduling and workflow. Is there some
way that the writers can move the project half-way to heaven (WinWord styles
that translate almost directly to DTP tags)??? It's something to consider.

Some of the things you'll need to resolve in order to have a successful team
effort include:

Standard Format -- now that you're all part of a team you'll need to
devise a standard format for different aspects of your doc (numbered
steps, bulleted lists, line spacing between paragraphs, etc) and stick to
it. Gone is your freedom to decide these things on-the-fly and having the
whole team remain consistent in the first stages makes tying things
together at the end much easier.

Standard Verbage -- ditto above, mostly. It will look really strange if
you push buttons in chapter 1, press buttons in chapter 2, and click on
buttons in chapter 3.

I did some contract work at Courseware/Andersen Consulting a couple of years
ago, and they have the "team" process down to a fine science.

The senior instructional designer (id) interviews the subject matter
expert (sme) and dumps the info into a file.

The id takes the dump, edits it, formats it (sort'a), sketches graphics
and passes 'em along to the artist, sends it down to dtp for real

dtp makes it look pretty and sends it to editing who does a pass and gives
it back to the id.

id reviews the edits and the dtp formatting and sends it back to dtp for
edit integration.

dtp makes the corrections and sends it to editor/id/senior id again.
After 3 passes -- it's soup!!!

And every friday the project manager brings donuts to the meeting and asks
you what your level of comfort with the project is. Talk about heaven!!!

Here at Easel/Enfin, we're not quite so efficient, nor do we have the enormous
team they had at Courseware.

The writer collects the info, writes and formats the book and sends it out
for review (to support, consulting, training, editing, and the world at

When suggested edits come in, the writer weeds through them and makes all
that are appropriate, then it's out for review again.

Hopefully, after the second pass, there's time for usability testing and
more edits cross the writers desk.

When all is said and done, it goes in for production edit and when you see
it again, it's a book.

But here, the writer does all the formatting, production edit runs the toc and
index, cleans up any widows/orphans, etc. Our neat trick is that we do it
between two coasts (Ma Bell just loves us!).

Good luck. It's not easy learning to be part of a team, but having that
support around you can be wonderful!

Sue Gallagher |
Sr. Technical Writer | "Updating a manual
Easel Corporation | is like changing tires
Enfin Technology Lab | on a moving car."
San Diego, CA | -- Edmond Weiss
Susan_Gallagher_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com |

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