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Course start date: mmddyy
TW210: Technical Publishing with Contemporary Desktop Publishing Systems, offered by Brooklyn College's Technical Writing Certificate program, enables you to explore a desktop publishing (DTP) application of your choice in a structured way. Your goal is to explore, learn, and document the book-building, conversion, and automation features of the application you choose. It will be your job to write quick-reference guides or tutorials for each of the applicable units for beginners with that application. This course will be as much a writing course as it will be a software learning course.

Use this page to find out what to name your files, see when projects are due, go to the online textbook and resources for this course.

Here are some choices; if you want to explore some other DTP application, let your instructor know.

  • Scribus
  • Adobe InDesign
  • MadCap Blaze
  • BroadVision QuickSilver (formerly Interleaf)

Notes:

  1. To take this course, you must have some version of one of the desktop publishing applications listed above. Let your instructor know which application and version you will be using. Some software vendors may offer academic discounts if you can show proof of registration in this course.
  2. You write your projects in whichever software application you wish (preferably the DTP application you are studying), convert the file to PDF, and send the PDF to your instructor. Get with your instructor if you cannot generate PDF files.
  3. You can write either quick-reference guides (preferable considering how many units there are) or full-blown tutorials. You can design these however you wish. Here are some example of tutorials. Here is an example of a quick-ref

When you complete a unit, click the Completed button for that unit. If you mistakenly mark a unit as completed, contact your instructor (or just wait until you've actually completed it.)

Word-Processing Basics

To get started, make sure you know how to do all the basic word-processing tasks with the desktop publishing (DTP) you have chosen: how to create, open, save files; use different font types, sizes, and faces; know how to align text in various ways; set margins and tabs; apply existing styles (tags); create numbered and bulleted lists; restart numbered lists; zoom in and out on text; do search and replace; run spellchecks; hide or show text symbols and formatting bars; set and customize page numbers.

Name this file yourname_basics1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor. (Name subsequent revisions yourname_basics2.pdf, yourname_basics3.pdf, and so on.)

Due date: mmddyy

Character and Paragraph Styles

A decent DTP application should have some implementation of "styles" (as they are called in Microsoft Word and now in FrameMaker 9). Paragraph styles apply to whole paragraphs of text; character styles, to selected text. Most applications come with a set of styles, but you can customize them and create your own. Styles can be loaded up with settings for fonts, color, margins, and many other features.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to use the supplied styles and how to create their own styles. Also, show readers how to export styles to other documents (although this task might be better saved for the templates unit).

Name this file yourname_styles1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Tables

In your DTP application, explore how to create and format tables. Experiment with different alignment, straddle columns and rows, shading, ruling, titles, footnote, and anything else you think worth covering. Also, show readers how they can save a table format for later use and how they can export that table format to another file, if your DTP application supports that function.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to use the supplied styles and how to create their own styles. Also, show readers how to export styles to other documents (although this task might be better saved for the templates unit).

Name this file yourname_tables1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Master Pages

"Master pages" is a FrameMaker term referring to different kinds of text frames. For example, many published books have a special text frame for page one of a chapter. Frames are also used for headers and footers. If your DTP application supports some concept of master pages, its templates should contain various kinds of master page. Learn how to use these supplied master pages and how to create your own.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to use the supplied styles and how to create their own styles. Also, show readers how to export styles to other documents (although this task might be better saved for the templates unit).

Name this file yourname_masterpages1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Templates

Templates are an important part of any DTP application. They can include page size, master pages (or whatever they are called in the application you are using), styles, variables—practically anything. Templates enable you to stay consistent across documents and alleviate the need of setting up the format for each document.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving templates that you have learned. Also, show readers how to import templates into new documents and how to import a template into many documents at once.

Name this file yourname_templates.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Anchored Graphics

Anchored graphics (called "anchored frames" in a FrameMaker) refer graphics and that can be formatted and placed in various ways. Whatever your DTP application calls them, you need a function that "anchors" graphics and thus controls their location and behavior when pagination changes occur.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving anchored frames (or whatever your DTP application calls them) that you have learned. Also, show readers how to import anchored frames into new documents.

Name this file yourname_aframes.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Optional DTP Modeling Project

Follow the directions for the Optional DTP modeling project to get some practice using your DTP application to format user-guide information.

Name this file yourname_format1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor. (Name subsequent revisions yourname_format2.fm, and so on.)

Due date: mmddyy

Reference Pages

The "reference page" is another FrameMaker concept. On reference pages, you can store often-used graphics, reference them in your text, and thus save on file size. In reference pages, you can establish special formatting for tables of contents and indexes, which cannot be done in any other way. In reference pages, you can create special graphics that you can associate with certain paragraph styles. In reference pages, you can customize how you want FrameMaker files to be converted to web pages.

If your DTP application has some function similar to reference pages (or whatever your application calls them), your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers the various things that can be done with reference pages. Also, show readers how to import reference pages into new documents.

Name this file yourname_refpages1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Cross-References

Explore cross-referencing in your DTP application: cross-reference to another page in the same document, to a separate document; learn how to include a chapter or heading title in a cross-reference such that if the title changes your cross-reference changes automatically as well; learn how to create customized cross-reference formats.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving cross-references that you have learned.

Name this file yourname_crossrefs1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Autonumbering

Autonumbering refers to numbering streams that automatically increment such as numbered lists. Documents can have many autonumbering streams: chapter numbers, heading numbers, figure numbers, table numbers, nested-list numbers. A decent DTP application should enable you to automate all of your numbering streams.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving autonumbering that you have learned.

Name the autonumbering practice work yourname_autonumbers.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Variables

Variables are textual elements that can be changed rapidly. Product names and version-release numbers are good examples. Instead of changing every last instance of the product name, just set it up as a variable, change the variable definition once, and the change automatically takes place throughout the document.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving variables that you have learned. Also, show readers how to import variables into new documents.

Name this variables practice work yourname_variables.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Conditional Text

Conditional text enables you to use the same documents for various purposes. For example, two releases of software may require so few changes to the user guide that it's better to maintain the one document set. Use the conditional-text function to tag the material that needs to be in one or the other release document: for example, "version 2 release 1" and "version 2 release 2." Use the DTP application to turn off materials marked as "version 2 release 1" and print the release 2 document.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving conditional text that you have learned.

Name this conditional-text practice work yourname_variables.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Optional Simple Procedure Project

Follow the directions for the Optional simple procedure project and use what you've learned so far about your DTP application to write a simple one- or two-page procedure.

Name this project yourname_procedure1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Book Building and TOCs

The best test for a DTP application is to see how well it can build a book and generate a table of contents (TOC) and index. Building one giant file out of all the individual chapters and other files is not a good method. When you build a book, you should be able to establish continuous chapter and page numbering across all files and to generate a TOC and index. (Index generating is covered in the next unit.) The titles of chapters and headings should come into the TOC automatically. You'll probably have to format the TOC separately. Afterwards, as the book changes, you should be able to update the TOC to reflect those changes but without having to reformat.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving book building and TOC generating that you have learned.

Name this file yourname_booktoc.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Indexing

Work with your DTP application to learn the details of indexing: how to create an index entry, how to create subentries, how to create See and See also entries, how to generate the index based on those entries, how to use links (if available) from entries in the index to the items in the files to make corrections.

Your project for this unit is to write a brief quick-reference guide or brief tutorial showing readers how to accomplish the various tasks involving indexing that you have learned.

Name this file yourname_indexing.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Book design: User Guides

Use the user guides page to study the common design and components of user guides in terms of book design, paying particular attention to cover and title pages, the edition notice, preface, table of contents, safety notices, headers, footers, appendixes, glossary, index, and reader-comment form.

No quiz with this unit!

Due date: mmddyy

Optional Book-Building Project

Follow the directions for optional book-building project for the ultimate test of your skills with the DTP application you have chosen to study. It may not be able to handle everything requested in this project.

Name this project yourname_bookformat.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Optional User-Guide Project

Follow the directions for the optional user-guide project to create a small but complete user guide. Suitable for your portfolio, this user guide should be fully automated in terms of all numbering streams as well as cross-references, table of contents, and index. Also, it will demonstrate good design and writing as well as industry-standard guidelines.

Name this project yourname_userguide1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

PDF Project

Use the PDF resource page & project to ensure that you can do the essential tasks with a PDF application (such as Acrobat) and then convert your DTP user guide to PDF.

Name this project yourname_userguide1.pdf, and send it as an e-mail attachment to your instructor.

Due date: mmddyy

Note: All work in this course must be complete no later than mmddyy.


Objectives
  • Learn basic formatting using your DTP application.
  • Learn how to use and create styles (tags) using your DTP application.
  • Learn how to use and create templates in your DTP application.
  • Learn how to use and create variables, conditional text, autonumbering in your DTP application.
  • Learn book-building skills using your DTP application.
  • Learn indexing techniques in your DTP application.
  • Optionally, format various common technical publications using your DTP application.
  • Optionally, write your own brief user guide that includes full use of your DTP application features as well as industry-standard style and format.
  • Learn how to convert a your DTP application document to a PDF.
  • Explain how to do these tasks in either quick-reference guides or tutorials.
  • Practice the standards of good writing and document design.
Textbooks

There are no required textbooks for this course.

Grades
  • A: All projects completed and approved by your instructor.
  • B: All projects completed and approved by your instructor except for the book-building project and the PDF project.
  • C: All projects completed and approved by your instructor, except for user-guide project and the PDF project.

Contact your instructor concerning credit for projects you have completed but are still not approved by the time the course is over.

Resources
Course evaluation

Use the course evaluation form to give your opinions on the effectiveness of the study materials and organization of this course. (This evaluation is strictly optional, strictly voluntary.)

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