I think I might have mentioned something about this in a previous post somewhere—I am not sure which one—but I recently had the relative fun of assisting Dr. Renée Shilkin in preparing a book she had written so it was ‘ready for the presses’; so to speak.
It really was relative fun because, in a way, at my age, anything you get to do to help someone with something worthwhile and it is not actually ‘work’ work, then it sort of falls into the category of fun. It also helps when it is someone else’s project and not your own.
Additionally, Renée was very appreciative of getting some assistance with the complexities, frustrations, and other general heuristics of dealing with Microsoft Word when it comes to the predictable and consistent layout, format, and pagination of a 400+ page document. On most occasions she even provided savouries, and a couple of times there were scones. There were even a couple of unexpected though highly appreciated presents involved—even though I had insisted no rewards were necessary.
Word 2000 (a.k.a. Word v9) had been used and the document had been complied as a single document. Word’s master/sub document structure had not been used. Even though Word 2007 (a.k.a. Word v12) was available it was decided early on by the consulting experts (including myself) to continue using Word 2000 and not to restructure the document into master/sub components. Also the images, of which there were a non-trivial number, were embedded and not linked. This meant that every time the document was worked on the complete 400+ page 280MB document, with images, was opened in Word. This significantly impacted the time it took Word to do AutoSave backups and its constant repaginations every time any change was made for which Word decided a repagination was required.
Also the vast bulk of paragraph formatting had been applied to each paragraph manually. One of my first jobs was to try and work out how many different styles were needed for headings, body text, indented text, 1st level bullets, 2nd level bullets, quotes, notes, numbered text (points), etc., and to develop them, then then go through the 400+ pages a paragraph at a time applying them.
At the beginning the document also broke many of the “7 Sins of Using Word” such as the use of the ‘normal’ style for content, inserted hard page breaks, using orphaned paragraphs (blank lines) to force in additional white space, the use of soft returns (Shift+Enter), and inserting leading tabs or spaces to indent text.
I think I am pretty safe in saying that her book took more time and effort, and caused more anxiety and distress, than she ever imagined—but she completed it and it made it to the printers.
To quote the ‘About the book’ page on Renée’s web site, the target audience of the book is “… parents of infants who cry a lot and/or have feeding and sleeping problems and for parents of older children who have related problems. It may also be helpful for some medical professionals who work with infants and young children”.
Personally, having read the book from cover to cover about four times as part of the assistance I provided, I would recommend that any parent of young children consider picking up a copy of this work. I would consider the cost expended as good value insurance that you may never have to use, but if you do, you will be informed.
You can find out more about the book by clicking on any of the images above (use Ctrl+Click to open in a new Tab).