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Tutorial: InCopy/InDesign: Automating the editorial process at LensWork

A simple, effective approach to Parallel Publishing By Brooks Jensen, Editor, LensWork Publishing

At LensWork Publishing we create LensWork, a high-caliber print magazine for photographers, and Lenswork Extended, a computer DVD-ROM version featuring numerous images as well as video interviews and tutorials. Like most publishers, we face tight deadlines. In order to meet shrinking design and production windows while maintaining exceptional quality, we adopted a parallel workflow that helps us put electronic and print issues to bed quickly and enables smooth collaboration among creative and production staff, freelancers, and contractors.  
Our previous iterative workflow was based primarily on Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. Word files had to be flowed and reflowed into InDesign layouts, which meant that people had to wait for others to complete tasks before starting their own. Our new parallel workflow is based on Adobe InCopy CS3 and InDesign CS3, a combination that allows everyone to work in parallel. For example, photo, text and layout editors can work concurrently without having to wait for someone else to update documents. As a result, tasks that were routinely behind schedule are now completed days ahead of time. The new process has reduced our print production cycle by a week and a half, and cut DVD-ROM production time by 50 percent. Now that our staff no longer has to hand off files from one person to the next, they have more time to focus on high-level design and editing work.

In moving to a parallel workflow, we learned several valuable lessons:

1. Identify potential areas for improvement
When we examined our workflow, we realized we were spending unnecessary time waiting for others to finish tasks. Our editorial team would have to wait for proofreaders to complete their work before writers could make necessary revisions, graphic artists had to wait to import text files from writers before determining word counts, column inches, and space allocations, and photo editors would print out hundreds of photographs and spread them out on the floor before paring down selections. We knew we needed new ways for everyone to work simultaneously and efficiently if we were going to cut production time and enhance quality.   
2. Consider an integrated solution for print publishing

It was clear that the move to a parallel workflow required a more integrated publishing system. I had previously assumed that InCopy was essentially a replacement for Microsoft Word. Then a tutorial, titled "InCopy CS3 + InDesign CS3 Integration" by Anne-Marie Concepción showed me that InCopy CS3 and InDesign CS3 together enable design, editorial, and production staff to work simultaneously to meet critical deadlines. Layout editors can access spreads and specific magazine sections without having to wait for other colleagues to finish updating the documents. Writers can view text from different perspectives, such as galley view and layout view, allowing them to access copy with ease and revise documents as quickly and accurately as possible. Smooth integration among the components of Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium, including Adobe Photoshop CS3 and InDesign CS3, enable us to easily incorporate images into magazine layouts. Best of all, everyone can work in the context of the layout to help ensure accuracy.

3. Accelerate reviews and proofing
Once layouts are completed, we export them from InDesign CS3 to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) for commenting and review using Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat Reader software. The integration of InCopy and InDesign with Acrobat is a marvelous time saver, particularly because of the team approach to commenting in Acrobat 8. The Shared Review feature streamlines in-house and external reviews by proofers, staff, and even consultants who are outside of our InCopy and InDesign workflow. In addition to accelerating reviews, Acrobat creates a proofing trail and enables asynchronous reviews among people on different schedules and in various time zones.

4. Look for ways to streamline DVD-ROM production
Adobe tools increase efficiency for our multimedia team as well as our print team. LensWork Extended, the parallel published DVD-ROM version of our magazine, is an expanded version of the print edition. It is published using the Adobe PDF platform via Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional. The DVD-ROM version offers the entire content of our print magazine plus added audio and video interviews and tutorials created using Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere Pro software. Because the PDF format does not have the page limitation inherent in print media, it also features many more photographs and additional portfolios than the print version. One of the most time-consuming processes we used to face was selecting photographs for the DVD-ROM version. We previously printed out hundreds of photos and spread them out on the floor to cull through them. Now, we use the thumbnail view feature in InDesign CS3 to select images on-screen. The new image selection process has resulted in an overall 50 percent reduction in DVD-ROM production time.

5. Keep training costs in mind
InDesign and InCopy`s integrated solution can be implemented in a matter of days. Training the LensWork team to use the new all Adobe workflow was essentially effortless. Over the course of a long weekend, management researched the use of InCopy via the training course. We introduced it to the full staff on Tuesday morning, and by later that same day we were all up and running on the new software. Because InCopy CS3 and InDesign CS3 have similar user interfaces, people of various skill levels were able to quickly adapt to the new software. Even staff members who had only cursory experience with Adobe tools learned the technology quickly.
InDesign and InCopy helped automate our editorial process to the extent that we now complete tasks days ahead of schedule. With our parallel print and electronic workflows, we have the time and resources to explore the possibility of developing other publications that have been, until now, only ideas. 

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