PubPro 2015: Session Summaries (Part 2)

On April 25, EAC-BC co-hosted PubPro 2015, an unconference for managing editors and publication production specialists. We previously featured a recap of the event and part 1 of the session summaries. Part 2 of the session summaries follows.

Written by Amy Haagsma; copy edited by Meagan Kus

Change management: A guided discussion led by Chantal Moore

Chantal Moore is communications manager at the BC Council for International Education, a Crown corporation that facilitates international student exchanges. She was interested in discussing best practices for managing change.

Here are some of the anecdotes and ideas shared in the discussion:

  • Chantal Moore: Even seemingly minor changes, such as using or not using the serial comma, require having a process in place. In a previous position with Telus, some employees volunteered as change ambassadors when the company rolled out a new intranet, to assist those having difficulty.
  • Marlene Dong, communications officer at Langara College: Langara College produced a continuing studies catalogue, with content to be provided by several people. To ensure consistency, a style guide was developed in conjunction with the continuing studies department. One of the turning points came when the publication won an award, as it became a prestige piece and a great source of pride.
  • Cheryl Stephens, plain language consultant, writer, and editor: When you set a policy, you need to have an orientation session; use emails, lunch and learns, and other methods to continue providing information. Enlist and exhibit support from the top levels of the organization, set up working groups, and appoint “go-to” people as key contacts. Also, empathize with people who resist change.
  • Lana Okerlund, freelance editor, writer, and indexer: The process needs to be as user friendly as possible. Consider this: no one has been trained to use, Facebook, etc., yet we are all able to do so with ease. Any new system needs to be just as intuitive.
  • Shelly Windover, editor and copywriter at Windover Editorial: Shelly worked with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of British Columbia to revise their registration documents and forms, with the goal of reducing administrative time. Shelly observed that one of the keys to gaining support is to help people understand the reason behind changes that affect them.

TeamworkPM: A presentation by Veronika Klaptocz

Veronika Klaptocz works in the marketing and communications department at Regent College. Her team manages the college’s website, issues news releases, assists the faculty and college recruitment team, and fulfills other ad hoc requests. Three years ago, they found that it was getting difficult to keep track of who was doing what. They looked at a number of project management platforms, ultimately deciding on TeamworkPM. For a subscription fee of $50/month, the department is able to manage up to 40 projects at a time.

Veronika took us through several features of TeamworkPM:

  • TeamworkPM has different tabs for projects, tasks, milestones, and time.
  • You can assign tasks to different individuals, set deadlines, add a description, make notes, and attach files.
  • Tasks can also be copied if a similar item comes up again.
  • Time can be logged directly in the task, and specified as billable or non-billable.
  • Milestones display in the calendar; they can also be shown on a Gantt chart.
  • Users can see who is working on various projects and communicate with other team members using the messages feature.
  • Freelancers can also be added to TeamworkPM so that it’s easy to see where they are at with their tasks.

A few others had also used TeamworkPM and shared additional tips:

  • Task templates are helpful for recurring tasks; deadlines can also be adjusted in bulk.
  • Users can add relevant files to tasks, such as notices, print quotations, or final PDFs of a project.
  • Comments are great for quick messages and updates; the messages feature can be used for more complex communications such as explaining scope changes.
  • When viewing tasks and milestones on a Gantt chart, you can drag and drop them to change the schedule. You can also create dependencies, subtasks, and recurring tasks.
  • TeamworkPM’s reporting features can be used for budgeting, as a production schedule, and to provide a visual representation of completed projects.

Ask the indexers: A guided discussion led by Iva Cheung and Lana Okerlund

Iva Cheung and Lana Okerlund hosted an open question-and-answer session about indexing, providing valuable information for production managers, others involved in the production process, and editors considering adding indexing to their service offering.

Here is a sample of what we learned:

  • An indexer can start work with the first round of proofs but will not actually produce the index until the end, as page numbers may shift.
  • Indexing always seems to be a “squeezed task,” but it is ideal to have about 10 working days.
  • An index for general non-fiction books will generally take 2 to 3 percent of the total number of pages; for books with a lot of references, a better estimate is 5 to 7 percent.
  • Indexing is charged based on the total number of indexable pages, starting around $4 per page.
  • It is helpful for the indexer to have the style sheet, as this can provide a starting point and save time looking up spellings. Also, if there are a lot of names, this might be an indication that additional pages will be needed for the index.
  • Indexers use indexing software to keep track of entries, manage heading levels, and automatically alphabetize the index. However, software that promises to automatically generate an index actually produces a concordance (essentially, a list of keywords). Indexing is about indexing ideas and concepts, not just words.
  • An indexer needs to go through the entire text in detail to decide what is important and what the reader will want to find out, and to differentiate between actual subjects and “passing mentions.” In general, passing mentions are not indexed, unless requested by the author or publisher.
  • Anyone interested in getting into indexing should read the indexing chapter in the Chicago Manual of Style, look into resources and professional development opportunities through the Indexing Society of Canada, and consider taking a course such as SFU’s Indexing: An Essential Art and Science.

To close, Iva left us with these words of wisdom: “Indexing is like cleaning your house. It gets dirtier before it gets clean! The final version comes from working with it.”

STEM periodicals: A guided discussion led by Kristin MacDonald

Kristin MacDonald is managing editor of Applied Spectroscopy, a scientific journal that publishes research and review articles related to spectroscopy. STEM periodicals (those related to science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics) are currently facing some challenges.

Here are some of the issues and solutions the group identified:

  • A dominant issue in STEM publishing today is a call for open access. Often, granting agencies don’t want to give money to researchers if they won’t be publishing on an open-access platform.
  • Where will the money to produce the journals come from? In particular, print publications are more expensive to produce than their digital counterparts.
  • Subscribers tend to prefer print versions, and Internet access is not assured in many parts of the world. Therefore, the vast majority of periodicals still have at least some print presence.
  • Applied Spectroscopy could consider producing a hybrid print–electronic periodical.
  • Items that are more time sensitive, including book reviews, could be made available electronically in advance.
  • The electronic version could have enhanced features, such as being available in colour.
  • An electronic publication may lead to an organic shift in preference for the electronic version.
  • In response to the push for open access, authors, research institutions, and/or granting agencies may be responsible for publication fees (article processing charges). An unintended consequence of this is that more online journals are being started, and predatory publishing practices have become an issue.
  • Getting Applied Spectroscopy into libraries is difficult, due to its focus on a very niche area of chemical physics.
  • Pirating is a problem, especially in international markets such as China and India.
  • Plagiarism is also a problem. To combat this, Applied Spectroscopy is run through parsers and other known databases; readers and reviewers or referees can also be good resources.

Creating documents for people with print disabilities: A presentation by Iva Cheung

Iva Cheung is a freelance editor, indexer, print designer, and publishing consultant. She is also a Ph.D. student in knowledge translation and has a particular interest in editing for accessibility.

Iva explained that an estimated 10 percent of the population has a print disability, yet only about 5 percent of all published works are available in an accessible format.

However, a number of factors have led to a recent focus on accessibility:

  • The Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires organizations to “provide accessible formats and communications supports as quickly as possible and at no additional cost when a person with a disability asks for them.”
  • The Centre for Equitable Library Access and the National Network for Equitable Library Service have emerged due to changes to the funding structure of the CNIB (formerly the Canadian National Institute for the Blind).
  • The Government of Canada agreed to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty, which allows Canada to export and import accessible publications to and from other countries.
  • Section 32(1) of the Canadian Copyright Act allows people with print disabilities and those acting on their behalf to create and use alternate formats of copyrighted print materials.

Screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver can be invaluable tools for people with print disabilities, but it’s important to keep in mind that the output is only as good as the input.

Iva outlined several considerations and best practices for creating accessible documents:

  • Break up sentences, chunk related text, and aim for a natural, conversational style.
  • Use symbols correctly—there is a different between an x and a multiplication sign, and between an en dash and a minus sign. Screen readers aren’t able to interpret one as the other.
  • Limit the use of abbreviations and acronyms; screen readers don’t understand things like WWII for World War II.
  • Use heading styles and ensure that text is formatted as text, rather than being converted into images.
  • Provide alt text for substantive images.
  • Don’t use colour as the only way to convey information.

Also see Iva’s blog post Accessible documents for people with print disabilities for more on the topic.

Amy Haagsma is a communications professional and a graduate of SFU’s Editing Certificate program.

Meagan Kus is a freelance copy editor and proofreader with an 18-year background in arts administration.

Images by Michelle van der Merwe

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