No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft
June 23, 2012 5:43 PM Subscribe
Tell me about document control for the beginner, without specialist software?
posted by b33j to Work & Money (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've been working on a series of documents that work together - Chapters if you like, that add up to over 2000 pages. There are multiple authors and contributors. I'm supposed to be the formatter, but some of the issues that have arisen which require me to format and reformat are:
The documents are not complete when I first receive them, but the approving (external) organisation needs to see them at various stages so I can't wait until they are done to format them.
The figures (over 200, spread over 26 chapters and 20 appendices) can change name. They are produced in PDF form and added into the Word document at the end. Last Thursday, I asked permission to, and performed a check and it turned out that at least 10% of them had a different name to that referred to in the text. At the point, someone else noticed that the font sizes in the diagrams were not consistent, nor the margins, and this needs to be straightened out (but not by me, unfortunately) before the documents can be completed.
There are a series of conventions or styles, such as a space after numbers and before unit types, spelling of words that have two acceptable spellings, scientific terms and so on, that I have picked up as I've worked through and gone back and fixed in the documents I thought were finished. There may be other inconsistencies, but how do I know what they are?
There needs to be an overall contents page, and yes, I know supposedly Word does a Master document thing, and will work from that (supposedly), so I copy the contents pages from each of the docs, and paste it into a spreadsheet, so I can recreate an overall contents page, but then the document changes again. I can never be certain it is finished.
As the documents are being written, various authors need to refer to figures in separate documents. As these names change, it's possible there's errors in these references.
Sometimes an "editor" who has knowledge about the topic, but not about style conventions will correct what they think is an issue (e.g. placing semi colons at the end of dot points, when the document style agreed on does not use this convention) and I will have to go through and re-correct this.
Sometimes a decision is made about a convention (changing the placement of tables from left to centred) and I won't be told, and when I next fix the document, I will re-correct incorrectly.
I suspect it's way too late in the creation of this document to do anything useful in terms of consistency (but if there is, please tell me!), but in future, what can I do, or suggest to the project manager, to make this process better all ways around.
I can write complex(ish) Access databases, if a database is the way to go.