Why start at the end when producing long documents?

What’s the best time to manage production of a long document? All too frequently, reverse engineering is required when questions that should have been asked before writing started are asked just before the document is due to go to print.

What style do we want? How can we manage content written by multiple authors? Do we need consistency in how industry terms are written? Does it make sense?

A style guide and an active editor can manage all this.

When all these questions are addressed at the beginning, they can guide contributors to write in the desired style and put in place a process to manage production and flag any problems before it’s too late. Brand names can be written correctly, capitals used consistently and the document can appear as a unified article that makes sense rather than many separate ones joined together in confusion.

Does it matter?

Yes, if you want to get the best value from all the resources invested. If employees are putting a lot of time into writing and if money is being spent on design, printing and distribution, I’d want to see the most effective document possible. Most importantly, I’d want a document that was useful to readers and gave them value.

Where this doesn’t happen, many things have to be corrected at the last minute. Rather than polishing the material, it has to be patched so that it is at best ‘satisfactory’.

You can find tips and advice on managing long documents at editorialresources.co.uk.

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