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On Tuesday 18 February 2003 12:01 pm, Jonathan Robie wrote:
> For me, it's easier to just write it using text in the first place,
> but we're all angle-bracket geeks here. Most authors don't think
> like we do.
When I worked in technical editing, one of the first things we were taught
was "make a checklist; don't do everything at once". Consistency is
so important for reference publishing. Enter the text; spell and grammar
check; mark up basic structures; check terminology is consistent;
mark up figures; mark up index entries; check that the headings are accurate
for their body text still; check that the same structures are marked up the
same way; print off a draft and check the text and tables; print off a galley
and get it proofread; tweak the text to prevent widows, add PIs to force
breaks and keeps for better layout, etc.
I think anyone (except perhaps enormous Brainiacs) who has written a book or
any kind of professional material will use a checklist. I once asked Don Stollee
(a project manager who works on large markup projects, often defence or
aeronautical) what the most important thing for efficient markup was: his answer
was dividing the job up into subtasks: rekeying tables would be one tasks, marking
up references would be another. People usually work the most efficiently when
they can concentrate on one thing at a time.
That was my reference to Adam Smith. The industrial revolution was based on
specialization and the division of labour: either between people or with people
serially taking on different roles. People and tools that encourage users to try
to do everything simultanousely will only help efficiency if the task is simple
(i.e. less than HTML-sized DTD), or the steps are really fixed (i.e. a form).
Otherwise, they may positively get in the way.