Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

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jesper:K
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Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by jesper:K » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:52 pm

hello everyone,

i know that this has been discussed before in some topics, but i was wondering if there is anyone here who can recommend using mellel for a scientific book project (200-300 pages, no tables/images, some footnotes) when you know that your publishing house will definitely require a .doc or .docx file. since unfortunately i am currently the only one i know who uses mellel, i cannot really ask anyone i know for advice.

when i started my project, i wrote with mellel and bookends (and absolutely loved it), and i know that it works extremely well with long texts. but i soon heard that most publishing houses (at least where i live and that are relevant for me) do not accept .pdf documents - which i had planned on using. i talked to some people in publishing and they told me that they still recommend word for everyone who wants to hand in a manuscript, because .docx is kind of the standard right now.

so basically, if i want to stick with mellel, i understand that the safest way to go in order to get a .docx file in the end would be to export from .mellel to .rtf, open the .rtf in word (or even libreoffice?) and then save it as .docx in word, right? is there anyone in this forum who has successfully done so with a large book project?

i would really like to write my project with mellel, simply because i do not enjoy working with word and find libreoffice too unstable. but am a little insecure if too much will be lost in the conversion process. i am willing to invest a couple of days to fix my converted document in the end, but would like to keep my sanity in doing so.

any advice/anecdotes are gladly appreciated!

ozean
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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by ozean » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:29 am

I did so for a three hundred pages long book with about 150 illustrations (but no tables), lots of footnotes etc. (And for many articles and book chapters for anthologies.) Went fine, and I always kept the Mellel version as my main version (to update mistakes, produce PDFs to send out to colleagues and students and eventually upload a version of the book as a PDF on my website). As most book publishers will probably want (a format-wise) pretty stripped down version of the manuscript, the export to Word works nicely enough because the exact layout is usually not a matter of concern.

Bulow
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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by Bulow » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:18 am

I have done like ozean for a long time and it works fine. I normally send the editors an rtf. Once there was a problem when I received the proofs, since all my footnotes had disappeared. The editor had opened it without thinking on his Mac and it had opened in TextEdit. Fortunately it was a short text with only a couple of notes. Since then, I always specify that the rtf must be opened in Word or similar. If they want docx they can make it themselves.
Exporting directly from Mellel to doc format also works fine, footnotes and all. It is only importing doc directly that does not work properly.
As ozean observes, your paragraph styles are lost, which will not worry the Word-people who do not seem to use styles much, but is a nuisance if the text is passed back to you with corrections in doc.
Bulow

laup
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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by laup » Wed May 07, 2014 7:54 pm

I am less sanguine than Bulow and Ozean, but encouraging nonetheless. The primary advice I would give is:

1. Recognize that the .docx product needs to be checked before passing it on or you may find that it has some embarrassing errors. Unless you have a very friendly relationship with your editor/publisher, and have no managers in between, the checking is important.

2. The usual problems are simple to fix:
a. pagination may be messed up and you have to reintroduce i, ii, iii for front matter and 1, 2, … for main text.
b. a page here or there will break differently, which may be avoided by omitting a word or two, adding a word or two, or by adding a forced break.
c. footnote/endnote styles may be changed, which you can fix in Word with global changes (you use insert footnote, as though adding a new one, change the styles, and then exit, rather than actually entering the new footnote). This is one of those things that can be embarrassing if you don't catch and fix things. To make things worse, there are, at least as of 2013, inconsistencies across Word versions/templates, that can cause note changes such as having dozens of in-text footnotes be in roman numerals, which looks stupid.

3. The more serious problems in my experience have been (a) colors within table cells don't export and have to be re-entered in Word manually (or the table replaced by a pdf figure at high resolution); (b) some subtleties of table borders don't export right; and, most serious, (c ) at present (May, 2014), exporting a document with tens of pdf figures to .rtf may fail [a problem that Redlers is aware of and will be fixing]. The only work-around of which I'm aware, if this happens for a particular document, is to copy the document, strip the figures out of one, export to rtf from that, and then re-insert the figures with copy and paste from the original Mellel version. Once you know what you're doing, this might be a matter of 10-30 minutes, but it can be troublesome if it comes as a shock. Again, I expect this problem will be fixed before long.

4. If there is back-and-forth between you and editors and you want to keep your Mellel version "correct," then there can be a fair amount of extra work for you, although I have found that I can usually do simple copy and paste, and then correct the format in Mellel as necessary.

In summary, I have done quite a number of manuscripts in Mellel and then passed them on in Word. Obviously, then, it's not too hard. However, I'd point again to item 1 in my list. This said, I like writing in Mellel/Bookends very much.

P.S., I am going through this process this very morning, albeit with a short paper (25 pages).
Paul

laup
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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by laup » Sun May 11, 2014 3:08 pm

Just ap clarification on keeping a master copy in mellel as you work with the editor or publisher:

Normally, this is easy, having everyone use rtf and mellel's comments feature, which is compatible with word's track changes.

The exception is if you want the master to be styled, to have an updatable table of contents, an outline, etc. Since exporting to rtf loses mellel styles, keeping a full mellel master would require correcting your original file to reflect changes. That's usually not hard using cut and paste from the corrected rtf file. I very seldom bother with this after a manuscript goes to a publisher, but i take this approach during collaboration and review. Also, i do this when a lot of material will be reused.
Paul

jesper:K
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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by jesper:K » Tue May 13, 2014 4:00 pm

thank you all very much for your elaborate replies. you really helped me in my decision-making-process, and i will definitely write my project in mellel.

one more thing, though: when i export from .mellel to .rtf, and then try to open this rtf-file in libre office, about 3/4 of my pages are lost, simply not there anymore. everything works fine with word and open office, which i also use, so i am not really in any danger. and i understand that import/export never works perfectly. but since this seems pretty odd to me, has anyone experienced something similar, and is there probably a workaround?

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Re: Mellel, .docx and publishing houses

Post by rpcameron » Tue May 13, 2014 6:42 pm

jesper:K wrote:one more thing, though: when i export from .mellel to .rtf, and then try to open this rtf-file in libre office, about 3/4 of my pages are lost, simply not there anymore. everything works fine with word and open office, which i also use, so i am not really in any danger. and i understand that import/export never works perfectly. but since this seems pretty odd to me, has anyone experienced something similar, and is there probably a workaround?
Which version of LibreOffice are you using? And which version of OpenOffice are you using? LibreOffice—at least in my experience—has a faster development cycle, and tends to have more complete features before OpenOffice; it almost seems like the inverse should be true …
— Robert Cameron

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