By Emily Allen
It’s Friday and your publication is behind in its production schedule again. One of your designers is in your office for the eighth time in the last 30 minutes asking you to interpret your notes in the margin of the last proof. You’re also ignoring the phone because you recognize the number is from your printer, asking (again) when you’re going to upload pages. You know you’re behind, and what’s worse, you’re also putting them behind. It seems you spend all of your time in editing and production—and less and less time thinking and working creatively.
If this scenario happens month after month, you have a few options: You could scream, fire your designer, harass your associate editor, or quit. Or, you could shave two weeks off your production cycle with InCopy™, sparing your design team the frustration of trying to decipher your scribbles and making work a happier, more efficient environment.
InCopy, a professional writing and editing solution from Adobe™, tightly integrates with InDesign™, enabling a parallel workflow between the design and editorial staff in the production of publications.
"It’s a powerful software tool from Adobe systems that can help editors and designers work together faster and more efficiently,” said Les McCarty, director of Touch Three, LLC, a firm specializing in creating association magazines, event marketing, and collateral.
Traditional vs InCopy
According to McCarty and Mike Witherell, a consultant with Jetset Communications—who both spoke at the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting in June—there are differences between traditional editing methods and InCopy.
The traditional operation of a publication incorporates the following:
· Text copy is flowed into the page layout software and formatted.
· Pages are designed and basic layout completed.
· PDFs are sent to editors via email, shared server, or hard copy.
· PDFs/hard copies are marked up with corrections and returned to designers or production specialists.
· Changes are made, and new rounds of PDFs are delivered to the editor.
Compare the above to the InCopy method:
· Copy is flowed in and formatted by production specialists.
· Pages are designed and basic layout completed by designers.
· InCopy files are created and made available to editors via shared servers or e-mail.
· Files are opened by editors, and corrections are made directly into embedded InCopy text files.
· Corrections are saved and graphic designers are updated.
· Designers update their links to InCopy files by updating links/assignments in their InDesign files.
How it Works
When the book is complete, the editing team begins correcting errors. Witherell said InCopy uses red to signal too much text, purple to indicate more copy is needed, and green to confirm the correct amount.
Editors – and conversely, designers – may be afraid to tinker with a completed page that the design team slaved over; however, the speakers said that’s not a concern with InCopy. Designers have the ability to lock editors out of page elements so boxes, images, and/or pull-quotes don’t get moved. InCopy has the familiar elements of a word processer. You’ll see all changes and track who changed what, as well as when changes were made. Once the editor is done, the copy is saved, signaling to the designer that the page needs to be refreshed.
Writers will need the same fonts on their machines as their designers use in the creation of the publication. "If you have the same font, you won’t have widows and orphans,” Witherell said. "Before, we didn’t care what the writer’s font was. But with InCopy, writers will have the same fonts and will see the same things as designers.”
A Good Fit?
Is InCopy right for your publication? The precise answer is maybe, maybe not. It depends on the size of your book, how much trouble you’re currently having with your production workflow, and whether or not editors, as well as designers, are ready for change.
If work is gliding along, you’re a small association publication with a tight-knit staff, and you have time for creative thinking, the switch may be more trouble than it’s worth. If the situation described in the lead paragraphs of this article sound like you, or if you are consistently failing to meet deadlines, don’t have time to creatively pour over your publication, or are ready for a new production method, then the time may be right for the switch.
McCarty got involved with InCopy when an editor approached him about using it to aid in the production of their publication. He downloaded the free 60-day trial and set about learning the program.
"For me, it was really seamless,” he said. "We downloaded one version and have it on all our machines.” After making the decision to buy it, he upgraded and didn’t have to download again.
McCarty said the advantages of InCopy are that editors can see how their changes affect layouts; for example, if they’re short or long or created a subhead at the bottom of the page, the editor can determine if they need a pull-quote to fill it out. Instantly, editors can see trouble spots instead of suffering a prolonged back and forth with designers.
On the other hand, there are disadvantages. The editorial side will have a learning curve. InCopy is similar to InDesign, Photoshop™, and Illustrator™ programs that the design team is already familiar with, but may be new to editors.
Furthermore, with InCopy, designers don’t have to make editorial corrections—work traditionally done by them—easing their workload. This seems like a win-win for designers, but may leave editors wandering in an InCopy-created fog. With InCopy, it appears at first glance that editors are doing the work the designer is supposed to do. However, editors still edit the copy, doing what they always have done—except now they are doing it by keystroke instead of by pen.
If you are thinking seriously about making the switch to InCopy, find out more details on the program at Adobe.com. Use the free 60-day trial, and then, before taking the leap, make sure everyone is on board—both designers and editors. If not, the switch will be a painful (and possibly costly) failure, said the speakers.
In addition, if you decide to switch from the traditional method of editing to InCopy, get training. When you do, put all the editors and designers in the same room to be trained, the speakers advised. That way, everyone knows his or her job in the process. Designers can learn what trips up the editors by the questions they ask and help facilitate the workflow when InCopy is implemented.
After learning the workflow of InCopy, McCarty and Witherell said association editors can shave time off of their production schedules, and workflow between design and editorial departments is much improved. InCopy is sophisticated software, they explained, containing many editing tools that do everything Microsoft Word™ does and more.
"InCopy will facilitate a smoother production model,” said McCarty. "It’s difficult to change and it’s sometimes painful, but if you really want to do it—to cut down on production time to leave more time for creative—you can do it.”
Simply put: There are pros and cons to weigh. In the end, only you can decide if InCopy is right for your organization.
(Editor's note: Don't miss an eye-opening InCopy case study with the Association of Corporate Counsel in the November/December issue of Association Media & Publishing's Signature magazine.)
Emily Allen is managing editor of OfficePro magazine, a publication of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Association Media & Publishing thanks her for covering this Annual Meeting session for those members who were unable to attend.