Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Durham, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    140
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Hi everyone,

    I work for a big pharma company that produces lots and lots of documentation. Currently for each different report type, we have an SOP and a "Document Standard" which detail how to complete the associated template. (By the way, although we call them templates, they're actually documents. Don't ask. I lost that battle years ago.)

    Our management is looking to do away with these SOPs and doc standards and instead "embed" the instructions in the templates we use to create these documents. Of course, they want the instructions to be easy to access and obvious to the user, yet also easy to remove from the final document. They're also concerned about making the templates reliable (i.e. not likely to crash Word or to be corrupted).

    Currently we use two different methods to convey instructions. The first is "Red hidden text". We've created a style that formats text to be colored red and hidden, and we have a tool which deletes this text after the document is complete. The other method is what we call "Info comments". They're simply Word comments, but the creator of the template enters the comments under the User Information tag "INFO". Again, we have tools to delete these comments at the end of the authoring process.

    I'd love to get input from people here on the forum regarding other ways to embed these instructions inside the documents. Off the top of my head, I was thinking of something involving XML, or creating custom Help topics associated with each document. I'm certain both of these would be too complicated (and too technical) for my management, but I've been wrong before.

    I've attached a sample of one of our templates to give you an idea of how we do things currently.

    TIA for any advice.

    Beej
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    84,353
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 29 Times in 29 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    The method involving a dedicated style (red hidden text) seems by far the easiest and least troublesome approach to me...

  3. #3
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Durham, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    140
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Hans,

    You're right, it works, but we have had some problems with it--mostly when you put it in a table cell. Because the macro we run to "finalize" the documents tries to delete any text formatted with the style, it occasionally starts trying to delete table cells. It's funny to watch, but not so funny for an author when it starts "eating" all the text of his table.

    Beej

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    84,353
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 29 Times in 29 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Is it absolutely necessary to put instructions in table cells?

  5. #5
    2 Star Lounger
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Durham, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    140
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Probably not, yet my management and my template creators insist on doing it. :-( I'll try again to stop them.

    I can easily go back to them with red hidden text as the simplest, easiest solution. They're just wondering if there are "better" or "more recommended" solutions out there in the rest of the world. That gives them more opportunities to tell me, "No."

    Do you get the feeling I dislike my management?

    Thanks again,

    Beej

  6. #6
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    I've done a couple of templates for big pharma companies and interestingly they've all used a hidden, red, (and sometimes italic) instruction text style and then a routine in the template to remove the instruction text when it's time to publish. We do the same thing in my company (a software consulting firm) for our content templates (proposals, resumes, etc.) except without a built-in function to remove the instructions.

    So no new ideas here (sorry!) but I thought it was interesting that the same format was used (a standard I guess?).

  7. #7
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Posts
    5
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Just as follow-up, regarding instructions in table cells. The macro I did for the pharma companies to remove the instruction text had to code specifically for dealing with tables and for the paragraph at the end of the document (if it is an empty para formatted with instruction text, it couldn't be deleted so instead the code would just apply Default Paragraph Font).

  8. #8
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Silicon Valley, USA
    Posts
    23,112
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked 93 Times in 89 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word X

    A variation on the theme is to dedicate a section to data collection, propagate the data throughout the document using fields, then when it's time to finalize, lock the fields and remove that section rather than targeting specific text styles. See <post:=389,256>post 389,256</post:> for an example.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
    Posts
    5,054
    Thanks
    2
    Thanked 417 Times in 346 Posts

    Re: Embedding 'instructions' in a document (Word XP)

    Hi Beej,

    If you take a look at my Date Calculations document (<post#=249902>post 249902</post#>), you'll find a number of possibilities listed under the 'Use Date (And/Or Time) Comparisons To Vary Text' heading. Techniques discussed include how to:
    . permanently hide instructions upon a document's first printing
    . hide instructions only at print time
    . vary instructions according to time/date

    Cheers
    Cheers,

    Paul Edstein
    [MS MVP - Word]

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •