4.2. Original documents (manuscripts)
Manuscripts have been produced in electronic format (Word, PDF, HTML, etc.) since the end of the 1990s. Text preparation and word processing are closely linked to the use of well-defined IT procedures (macros, spell-check programs, etc.). This section describes the procedures recommended to optimise the word processing of texts for publication, which can simply be in addition to the traditional work of preparing a text (linguistic preparation).
These recommendations are focused on the processing of files in Word format, since Word is the standard tool for inputting original documents in the European Union institutions. The basic principles described below can easily be adapted to any other software on the market.
4.2.1. Principle of a production chain
The original documents (‘manuscripts’) provided by the originating departments must undergo a meticulously organised preparation process. To ensure that production is efficient, and therefore speedy, it is advisable to set up ‘production chains’ between the originating departments, the Publications Office and the printers.
The term ‘production chain’ simply means common working principles applied right from the time the text is created electronically:
When starting any work, the project manager must work in close collaboration with the authors and printers to establish all the production parameters. This begins by defining the required file configuration. It is at this stage that the use of markup protocols or style sheets (see Section 4.2.2) must be precisely determined, as their definition is highly dependent on the contractors’ transcoding/recovery programs.
Any action must extend as far as possible along the production chain, to cut out a whole range of pointless, possibly expensive, manual operations, which are often the source of errors. This makes production much faster, optimises quality and reduces production costs.
A stable and uniform work plan allows each party involved to optimise their procedures. By generalising the framework, identical procedures can be set up for all parties involved in production, particularly the contractors, which will allow the Publications Office and thus the authors to quickly switch to another contractor should unforeseen events arise, without the production process grinding to a halt.