Editorium: DesignGeek for Editors

July 26, 2004 - 1:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

The InDesign listserv and forums have had a lot of discussion recently about importing Microsoft Word files and their attendant style-sheet/local formatting problems. When I went to the InDesign Conference in Boston a couple weeks ago, the same topic came up in various sessions. On the Quark listserv and forums it's a perennial topic as well.

If only Word users had some inkling of how to apply (or not apply) text formatting correctly, we page layout people wouldn't have to spend hours fixing their files…that's the general gist. And oh, how true it is! (I can feel the earth shift a little as hundreds of you read this and nod your heads in commiseration.)

During one of these discussions — I can't remember where — someone recommended a web site devoted to tools, macros, and informative articles about cleaning up Word files in preparation for importing into a page layout program, or for converting it to tagged text, or for publishing long documents in Word itself. The production manager said the tools had saved him hundreds of hours of time and his sanity.

I'm all for that. So when I came back from Boston, I went through my notes and found the URL for the site, called The Editorium:

The home page lists a bunch of amazingly helpful tools, mostly in the form of .dot files (Word templates) that add functions to Microsoft Word on both the Mac and Windows platforms, for the current version of Word and a few versions back. More on that in a second.

Right now I want to direct your attention to this page on the site:

It's a listing of the articles from back issues of the "Editorium Update," a free, weekly DesignGeek-like newsletter with a focus on editing and formatting Microsoft Word files.

The writer, tool developer and site owner is Jack Lyon, past book editor and current managing editor of a publishing house. After I read a few of his articles, I was hooked. I'm not an editor, but I play one all the time, and in my brief sampling came across a ton of information that will help me work smarter in Word (and, subsequently, in InDesign and QuarkXPress). I subscribed immediately.

If you use Word (even just to look at a file before importing it into a layout program), take a look. If your clients or your editors use Word, do them a favor and encourage them to check out the site and perhaps subscribe.

To subscribe to the weekly Editorium Update, send a blank e-mail to:
editorium-subscribe [at] topica [dot] com

You'll need to reply to the confirmation e-mail, and then you're subscribed. Jack sends these out every Wednesday.

About those Editorium Tools

Go back to the home page at editorium.com to see the Word add-ons and other tools. You have GOT to check these out. (Where have they been all my life?)

Here's one example:

FILE CLEANER: FileCleaner cleans up common problems in electronic manuscripts, including multiple spaces, multiple returns, unnecessary tabs, improperly typed ellipses, ells used as ones, and so on. It turns double hyphens into em dashes, and hyphens between numerals into en dashes. It can also remove directly applied font formatting (such as Times 12 point) while retaining styles (such as Heading 1) and character formatting (such as italic and bold), quickly cleaning up those messy documents imported from other word processors or OCR programs.

It looks like Jack allows you to download and use any of the tools for up to 45 days as a try-out. All the documentation for the tools are on his site (I love it when developers do that) so you can get an idea of what's involved installing and using them.

Also, some of the tools can apparently do batch operations — they can be run on a folder full of files. Now *that's* a time-saver.

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