Technical Editors' Eyrie Photo of Osprey
Resources for technical editors Home page About technical editing Books Tips, techniques and checklists Links to other resources Newsletter archives Site index Search this site Business basics: marketing, website development, and more



Newsletter Issue 48, 28 June 2001

ISSN 1442-8652

Editor: Jean Hollis Weber

In this issue...

Creating PDF documents from Word using Adobe Acrobat 4 (cont.)
    Creating PDFs using PDF Maker
    Printing to a PostScript file and distilling
Book review: Poor Richard's Creating E-Books
Remember to edit for an international audience
Book review: Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style
Documentation Developers Conference in New Zealand
Verbal self-defense books
Books available from Jean Hollis Weber
    Taming Microsoft Word
    Editing Online Help
    Electronic Editing
Subscription information

Creating PDF documents from Word using Adobe Acrobat 4 (cont.)

Extracted from Chapter 8 of Taming Microsoft Word. The chapter includes screen captures, not reproduced here. For more about the book, see

The first part of this extract appeared in issue 47 of this newsletter,

Creating PDFs using PDF Maker

To create a PDF file from within Word:

  1. On the File menu, click Create Adobe PDF.
  2. On the General tab of the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog, select Use Acrobat Distiller and Print via Distiller's printer.

    Choose the Distiller settings required for this job. (You previously defined all these settings.)

    Also choose whether you want:

    • To be prompted for the name of the PDF. This choice includes deciding where the resulting file will be stored, so you probably want to do this, rather than letting Distiller do it.
    • To view the PDF immediately after creating it, a matter of personal preference; you may find it useful or a nuisance to have Acrobat open at the end of the job.
    • To have Distiller display errors on screen. Again a matter of preference, but generally very useful for trouble-shooting.
    • To have the intermediate PostScript files deleted automatically at the end of the job. These files can be huge and can quickly fill up your disk space if you're doing a lot of them.
  3. On the Output tab, choose the features you want included in the PDF.
  4. On the Bookmarks tab, choose the heading levels you want turned into PDF bookmarks.
  5. On the Display options tab, choose the appearance of links and the way you want the document to open.
  6. Click Create.

The process of creating and distilling a PostScript file will take care of itself. A large file can take quite awhile (up to an hour or more), especially if your computer is underpowered or doesn't have a lot of memory.

If you've chosen to be asked for a file name, the process will stop in the middle until you do that.

I recommend that you don't attempt to use the computer for any other purpose while this process is running. Go to lunch, or attend a meeting, or read a book, or catch up on your filing, but don't touch the computer.

Back to top

Printing to a PostScript file and distilling

If you prefer to use the manual two-step process to create a PDF, here's how:

  1. Make sure you have set up your system as described in Setting up Acrobat 4 in the previous issue of this newsletter.
  2. In Word, open the document to be distilled into PDF.
  3. On the File menu, choose Print.
  4. In the Printer section of the Print dialog, select Acrobat Distiller from the Printer Name list, select the Print to file checkbox, then click OK.
  5. On the Print to File dialog, select All Files (*.*) from the Save as Type list, choose the folder where you want to store the PostScript file, type a filename with the .PS extension (not .PRN, as Word likes to insert automatically), then click OK.

    The PostScript file is created and stored in the folder you selected. If you have a long, complicated document, this process could take a while.

  6. Open Acrobat Distiller. From the Job options list, choose the one you want.
  7. On the File menu, click Open. Find and select the PostScript file you just created.
  8. Choose PDF Files (*.PDF) on the Save as type list, make sure the filename and the folder shown are the ones you want, then click Save. Acrobat Distiller creates a PDF file and saves it in the selected folder. If you have a long, complicated document, this process could take a while.

Back to top

Book review: Poor Richard's Creating E-books

By Chris Van Buren and Jeff Cogswell, Top Floor Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1930082029

For the full text of this book review, see

This book is a good introduction to e-books for those who are considering writing or publishing them, or who are just interested in what's happening in the field. It should save you hours of research and thus pay for itself almost immediately.

As a beginning e-book publisher nearly 3 years ago, I had laboriously researched much of the information that you can get by reading this book. I also have a long list of things to look up when I have time, and I'm delighted to say that this book has the answers to most of those questions and provides links to sites with more details.

The book is divided into five parts: an overview of electronic publishing, planning and creating an e-book, getting an e-book published and sold, business issues, and real-life success stories and trends. Appendixes include lists of e-publishers and other resources, and sample contracts; a glossary and an index complete the book.

Practical topics covered include writing the book, the value - and necessity - of having a good editor, the production process (including print-on-demand), and issues to consider when choosing whether to self-publish or use a commercial publisher or a publishing service.

Other chapters cover digital rights and copy protection, book marketing strategies, contracts, and other business issues such as production costs and collecting payment.

My only complaint book is a lack of reference to issues that affect people who are not US residents. I don't expect a book of this type to say very much on the subject, but it should at least have a few sentences in relevant places, or a short section devoted to these issues. However, the vast majority of the information is valid no matter where you live.

The book has an associated Web site that contains hundreds of links to useful resources mentioned in the book.

Back to top

Remember to edit for an international audience

When editing material to be read by an international audience (almost anything about the Internet is likely to be in this category), you need to consider a range of issues.

One is the necessity to include at least some statements to indicate when something in the book is country-specific. For example, in Poor Richard's Creating E-Books, reviewed above, the authors go into some detail in how to get an ISBN, but the specifics are only of use to US-based publishers. They should at least mention that if you live outside the USA, you should locate the relevant authority in your country and find out from them how to get an ISBN. Copyright registration varies in other countries, too.

Other problems to look for are culture-specific references. These can include sports, well-known personalities, units of currency, even seasons. Again using Poor Richard's Creating E-Books as an example, on page 30 they say "... and pay for only the pages you access, say, at a dime a page ..." Many people outside North America aren't sure what a "dime" is, so they won't be sure whether the authors are trying to suggest this is a cheap or expensive model. A reference like this could easily be changed to "ten cents a page" - most people will understand that "ten cents" is not a large sum of money, even if their own currency doesn't use "cents."

Back to top

Book review: Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style

Edited by Philip Rubens, 2nd edition, Routledge, 2000, ISBN 0415925517

Reviewed by Lori Lathrop,
Lathrop Media Services
7308-C East Independence Blvd., #316
Charlotte, NC 28227
Office 888-345-INDX (888-345-4639)

This book has a design similar to the Chicago Manual of Style, and I believe the authors' intentions were to make it the equivalent of CMS but with specific guidelines for scientific and technical writing. I don't use the Microsoft Manual of Style, so I can't comment on any comparisons with it. I do have Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry by Sun Technical Publications, and I think it is one of the most readable style guides I've seen; however, I would say that Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style appears to contain more nitty-gritty details.

The TOC might be useful to you and others who are curious about the book. Note: The following shows only the primary chapter titles (not the lower-level headings):

  1. Audience Analysis and Document Planning
  2. Writing for Non-native Audiences
  3. Grammar, Usage, and Revising for Publication
  4. Punctuating Scientific and Technical Prose
  5. Using Acceptable Spelling
  6. Incorporating Specialized Terminology
  7. Using Numbers and Symbols
  8. Using Quotations, Citations, and References
  9. Creating Indexes
  10. Creating Nontextual Information
  11. Creating Usable Data Displays
  12. Designing Useful Documents

A few additional comments:

Chapter 1 contains guidelines for determining the appropriate medium - articles, booklets, brochures, newsletters, correspondence (including e-mail), manuals (including tutorials, training guides, user guides, operator manuals, reference materials, user reference manuals, and job aids), reports (scientific research reports, business research reports, progress/status reports, proposals, and feasibility studies), help systems, wizards, and Web sites).

Chapter 2 contains guidelines for minimum word strategy, Controlled English, Global English.

Chapter 7 contains guidelines for abbreviations as professional shorthand, organizational names, military terminology, health and medical terms, scientific terms and symbols, technology terms (computer terms, electronics, and telecommunications).

Chapter 11 is very comprehensive. It includes guidelines for tables, charts, and diagrams.

Chapter 12 includes guidelines for designing page and screen elements and grids, designing specific information types (newsletters, papers and articles for publication, and technical manuals), controlling large document sets, and graphic production.

Note: I (Lori) reviewed the chapter on indexing prior to publication, and I also created the index for the book.

Back to top

Documentation Developers Conference in New Zealand

(Editor's note: The following news item is now out of date.)

For anyone in Australia or New Zealand (or planning a trip there), this might be of interest.

The NZTWA (New Zealand Technical Writers' Association) and the STC NZ Branch are holding a joint conference here on September 6th and 7th, 2001.

The Conference brochure is on the Web sites and

Back to top

Verbal self-defense books

I've been a big fan of Suzette Haden Elgin's "Verbal Self Defense" books for many years, and I've had the pleasure of meeting her on two occasions, the most recent being at a conference at the end of May.

I was delighted to find that some of her out-of-print books have been re-issued, sometimes in a revised and updated version. Here are some that you might find useful:

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense at Work, Paperback, January 2000, ISBN 0735200890

How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable: Getting Your Point Across With the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, Paperback, March 1997, ISBN 0471157058

Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, Paperback, ISBN 0471580163

Staying Well With the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, Hardcover, July 1997, ISBN 1567310818

If you buy any of these through my link, you'll be helping keep this Web site in business. Links to these books (and others) are also available through this page:

Back to top

Books available from Jean Hollis Weber

Taming Microsoft Word

116 pages
ISBN 0 9578419 2 2
Published February 2001

A quick reference for writers, editors, and others who need to use some of Word's more advanced features. This book is an expanded and updated version of Chapters 3 and 4 in my first book, Electronic Editing. Taming Microsoft Word is quick to read, yet packed with essential information.

A full contents list and information on downloading the PDF file and paying for it are available here:

Back to top

Editing Online Help

155 pages
ISBN 0 9578419 0 6
Published October 2000

For students, writers, and editors who are developing online help for computer software, and for their managers and clients.

Supplements tool-specific instruction by presenting the basics of help content development, regardless of the operating system running the application, the type of help being produced, or the tools used to produce it.

More information here:

Back to top

Electronic Editing

248 pages
ISBN 0 646 38037 0
Published October 1999

A quick start guide for editing students, experienced editors making the switch from paper to online, and anyone who needs to write or edit electronically.

More information here:

Back to top

© Copyright 2001, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.

You may forward this newsletter (in whole or in part) to friends and colleagues, as long as you retain this copyright and subscription information, and do not charge any fee.

Subscription information

This newsletter is no longer being published.

Privacy statement

I do not sell, rent, or give my mailing list to anyone.