> I favor the idea that quality starts with designing the process to avoid
> mistakes.

What a silly notion! ;-) LOL!!!

I totally agree with you, Joe.

> If we agree that formatting standards for documents produce quality
> documents, then logically we should set up our tools so that those
> standards are the only possible way to format. I haven't yet seen an
> instance where ad hoc formatting was absolutely necessary, but then
> again, I'm a relative newcomer. Someone should suggest an instance in
> which they had to override a character or paragraph tag.

There is no reason why anyone *needs* to use overrides, really. It's a
matter of want and the lack of understanding to know any other way
around the problem (or lack of thought or planning to avoid the

> This, by the way, is why I am such a fan of structured FM.

It's growing on me, too. ;-)

> Note that I often *change* the definition of a character or paragraph
> format. Alas, I'm starting a department from scratch, so I have to
> design as I go. As much as I can, I change the template as soon as I'm
> sure my override is what I want. Quality also involves feedback.

Designing as you go works, but you can still put some mechanics around
it to best define your templates right the first time. Let's say
you're working on book A and you need a custom style. It should be at
that point that you raise the issue with your team and determine if
books B and C would also use the format. If yes, then use it. Of no,
then determine if it's an absolute need for book A or if you could go
about it a bit differently with conventional styles. If you absolutely
need it, build it into the core template and name it appropriately.

We support over 400 books and use one set of core templates to do so.
The trick is to know the information types at play in your product
documentation and stick to them, and when unique cases come up,
investigate their need before implementing anything.

And, it takes much less time to do this than you'd think.

The benefits? Ability to apply global template updates to all books
with no manual intervention beyond applying the template, portability
of information, and no need for custom learning of book mechanics from
one project to the next.

Bill Swallow
HATT List Owner
WWP-Users List Owner
I support Char James-Tanny for STC Secretary.

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