Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

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Manu31
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Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:58 am

Hello Everyone,

I've completed a manuscript with Mellel and I can say, it has been a real pleasure to work with this software. The document is 2 millions characters long with 1.600 footnotes, many bibliographic references or cross-references, and Mellel performed incredibly well. I enjoyed the fact that Mellel never got in my way doing what I didn't want it to do, nor behaving in an unpleasant manner. So, I give much credit to the team who has created and improved this jewel for many years now. Thanks for your work!

Now, I get to the more unpleasant part of preparing the manuscript for publication. I tried to export to .doc this morning and realized that not only cross-references do not survive (it's going to be painful to correct this by hand, but I can handle it), but that styles (character styles and paragraph styles) do not export, and that errors appear (like some footnote numbers being italicized) : everything, including footnotes, appears in "normal" style.

I looked into Mellel Manual, but couldn't find advice on what is the best way to get my document into the hands of a publisher.
In another post, mlemaire says that he "generates the final output with Adobe InDesign", which would be great, but he doesn't explain how to do so (see viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3587#p19406).

So, how can I get my document into a file that my publisher can handle, that is, with styles and basic formatting preserved? Do I have to export to .doc (or .rtf), or is there any other way to avoid this failed export filter? I suppose I'm not the first one to cope with this problem.

Thanks for your help.

Manu

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by ealvarez » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:11 pm

I sent paper copies : ) ...They really asked for it!

Should I be accepted, I hope that there will be a workaround for the editor to import from a pdf format to Adobe inDesign (there should be!). I have indeed the same issues than you with the "export to .doc".

Manu31
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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:09 pm

Thanks ealvarez,

I had a look to InDesign documentation but couldn't find anything about an import from a PDF file. This makes sense when considering what a PDF file is, but it's unfortunate.

Manu

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Sani » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:36 pm

I dislike to say it, but so far Mellel seems to me the worst when it comes to ms word compatibility and I wrote my science book last year in Scrivener and then exported it to Word. I compared Mellel to Pages, Nisus and even Scrivener and all of them, including Scrivener which isn't a word processor at all, translated better to a word document than Mellel. Mellel is a very very nice tool but for me, a word processor stands or fails in how good it is in translating over to the docx format. On Mellel even the styles got lost "in translation".
I don't want to sound negative here, I post very rarely but I have Mellel for quite a long time and read on the forum here for a long time. The developer should know that all features become almost useless if at the end of the work all we can do is to print our mellel documents out or send it as a picture/pdf. I would like to use mellel for my books but I simply don't have the time to do the same tasks twice, including setting the styles again.

Manu31
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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:02 pm

Thanks Sani for your comment.

I completely agree. I asked Ori some time ago about this limitation in export options (it was before I experienced how poor it is) and he answered that his goal was to bring Mellel to a point where it would include publication features, so that publishers could use Mellel instead of InDesign or equivalent. It seems that he came to this view because he is (or was) himself a publisher, and created Mellel with a publisher's mindset. And it is true that Mellel is composing text far better than any word processor I know. That it has many advanced features incredibly powerful, like the new index and find/replace action sets (which is, unfortunately, far too complex in its syntax for me, with too little documentation to learn how to operate it).

But I think it is a strategic error. The vertical integration he wants cannot happen except in few, limited circles. Authors and publishers are different species, their interface is very limited: the final stage of one's work on the text is the first one of the other's, that's all. At least in the academic, one cannot expect authors to adopt a word processor just because one of the potential publishers expect them to do so, while the others do not. And conversely, one cannot expect a publisher to convert to Mellel as a production tool just because an author asks him to do so. Add to this that publishers as well as authors are creatures of habit: getting familiar with a software and getting the best that suits your needs out of it consumes a lot of time and effort.

Moreover, even if I'm nowhere near to be a software engineer, I think it is a technical error, the very one that plagues MS Word and all the big bloated softwares: wanting to be a universal tool means that complexity gets out of hand, either for coding or for using. One ends up with lack of clarity in the functions and menus, options scattered everywhere reflecting only layers and layers of accumulating updates, everlasting bugs or wrong behaviors that enrage the user because they appear at the basic usage of the software while the software guys are only interested in the new extension they are working on, etc.

All that said, I'm left with not many options, all of them being distressing… This doesn't make me regret having written my manuscript with Mellel, it's such a great piece of software. But this wonderful experience is a little stained now.

Thanks anyway for your interest.

Manu

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by nicka » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:09 pm

Glad to see this debate. I very much agree that it's desirable that Mellel be able to export Word files with named styles, and I agree with Manu's reason: writers generally need to produce such files when they send work to publishers.

For me (also an academic) the lack of this ability means that I can only use Mellel for the few documents where I am writer and 'publisher': my CV, handouts for classes and lectures, some letters. Nothing more. When I do get to use Mellel, it's generally a pleasure – it's stable, versatile, well-designed – but the pleasure is short-lived, because then I go back to writing a paper or part of a book, and I do that in Scrivener (for initial drafting) and Word (for everything after that).

I'm still hoping that this will change one day.

Manu31
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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:12 pm

I see that we are all expecting to use Mellel MORE, which says a lot about the quality of this software and the enjoyment it provides to its users, but also points to the possibility of its improvement…

In the meantime, nicka, you confirm that I have a painful time ahead of me.

Thanks for your contribution.

Manu

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by ymeroz » Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:52 am

This is a serious problem, for all the reasons mentioned here. People have been complaining about it for years.

I have a clunky workaround which I haven't tried, but which should work. Attach to each character style a feature you don't use. For example, edit character style 1 to have a yellow background, character style 2 to have a green background, etc. Then import the document to Word, redefine the styles there, and use Search and Replace to replace yellow background with style 1, etc. I'm not sure how to do this with paragraph styles.

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by nicka » Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:27 pm

Manu: I'm hoping to use Mellel more, but expecting to use it about the same, for the reasons given here.

I wanted to add a bit of nuance to what I wrote before.

I think that the problem for academics is more complex than I said. Plenty of academic publishers are happy with text that has very basic character formatting, and don't require named styles. E.g. they might just want everything in 11 pt Times New Roman, lines double-spaced, and with headings numbered rather than marked up with paragraph styles. So it's very tempting to use Mellel, given its stability and its excellent integration with Bookends.

But i) you don't always know whether the formatting requirements for a piece of work are going to be so undemanding when you are writing it; and ii) it's going to have to go into Word format for submission and then be revised in response to referees' comments and perhaps reformatted.

So it feels risky doing work like that in Mellel: you don't know whether you will need the whole thing to be in Word format with named styles, and if you eventually do, it's going to be a pain to put them in. I generally don't choose to take that risk.

It also doesn't help that export to Word format was still rather glitchy the last time I used it, with endnote numbers changing format (from arabic to roman numerals, I think). I don't know if that still happens, or what other errors occur, and I don't want to find out when I have a deadline to meet.

In short: for academics, export to Word format needs to be seamless and to preserve style names, as well as styling.

Manu31
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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:15 pm

ymeroz wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:52 am
This is a serious problem, for all the reasons mentioned here. People have been complaining about it for years.

I have a clunky workaround which I haven't tried, but which should work. Attach to each character style a feature you don't use. For example, edit character style 1 to have a yellow background, character style 2 to have a green background, etc. Then import the document to Word, redefine the styles there, and use Search and Replace to replace yellow background with style 1, etc. I'm not sure how to do this with paragraph styles.
Thanks ymeroz, this is actually a smart workaround. It could also be of some help with cross-references. Something that the Mellel team could think about: instead of coding a docx filter, just export an rtf with plain text code inside and design a macro for Word which would work as a compilation tool to restaure formats and other stuff.

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Re: Manuscript for publication: doc, PDF and InDesign?

Post by Manu31 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:20 pm

nicka wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:27 pm
Manu: I'm hoping to use Mellel more, but expecting to use it about the same, for the reasons given here.

I wanted to add a bit of nuance to what I wrote before.

I think that the problem for academics is more complex than I said. Plenty of academic publishers are happy with text that has very basic character formatting, and don't require named styles. E.g. they might just want everything in 11 pt Times New Roman, lines double-spaced, and with headings numbered rather than marked up with paragraph styles. So it's very tempting to use Mellel, given its stability and its excellent integration with Bookends.

But i) you don't always know whether the formatting requirements for a piece of work are going to be so undemanding when you are writing it; and ii) it's going to have to go into Word format for submission and then be revised in response to referees' comments and perhaps reformatted.

So it feels risky doing work like that in Mellel: you don't know whether you will need the whole thing to be in Word format with named styles, and if you eventually do, it's going to be a pain to put them in. I generally don't choose to take that risk.

It also doesn't help that export to Word format was still rather glitchy the last time I used it, with endnote numbers changing format (from arabic to roman numerals, I think). I don't know if that still happens, or what other errors occur, and I don't want to find out when I have a deadline to meet.

In short: for academics, export to Word format needs to be seamless and to preserve style names, as well as styling.
I agree nicka, that's what I wrote that the author's interface with publishers is mainly that of one's last step connecting with one's first step. Which means that, as always in those situations, efficient translation between one and the other is key.
Thanks. Manu.

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