by Lesley-Anne Longo
Published at 2020-06-10
At TEC, we work with our clients to organize, edit, and lay out their documents – which are short publications like information guides, professional CVs, and resource/information booklets. But how exactly does that work? How can we translate their idea of what they want into something that we can understand and thus recreate? Well, we have a system that helps us do that.
We recently worked with a client who hired us to have a guide she created on model mentoring (she owns her own model representation agency) edited and formatted for a more put-together feel. The editing was fairly straightforward – clients will usually tell us the specific concerns they have with their document, anything from just cleaning up the grammar to helping with sentence flow, to working with the larger structure of the document. We take those specific concerns and keep them front of mind while we edit the document, making sure the issues are addressed and corrected.
The client’s guide needed some cleaning up to help improve clarity and flow throughout the document (no larger changes to the overall structure were necessary), which we easily completed, and light copy editing for grammar and spelling. The client was happy with the edits and so we looked ahead to the next step: formatting her guide.
To help make sure we understand what our clients are looking for in terms of the formatting of their documents, we’ve implemented a checklist system that helps illustrate exactly what our plans are for the document. This way, it’s easier for clients to see all the steps of what we’re going to do, and they can voice any concerns or questions they might have.
In the checklist, we have a “To Do” section at the top, listing out each of our tasks. For the model mentoring project, this section included the following steps:
1. Revise headings so the levels are clear and well-delineated
2. Edit footers to show the correct page number
3. Edit table of contents so it functions
We also included a step of switching out an image she had included (that had a watermark and required payment to use) for a stock photo that was free to use, and we sourced a few options for her to choose from based on the specifications she gave us.
To ensure the “look” of the document is what the client wants, we create a working checklist that lists what typefaces and font sizes we plan to use so the client can see the selection on the page and switch anything they want as necessary. We list the typeface and size of the running text, as well as each level of heading.
In the model mentoring guide, I included a mock-up to show the client what different sized headings would look like, so she could more easily envision the final product and make an informed decision.
Creating visual opportunities to help the client choose what they like is easier than trying to deal in the abstract – people know what they like when they see it! We provide options so our clients can point and say, “Yes, this one!”
Plus, even if the client doesn’t like all of the options we’ve picked out, it creates a great jumping off point for discussing what elements they do like so we can explore further and come back with alternatives. In the model mentoring case, the client agreed to everything on the checklist and made her selection of font sizes for the headings and text as necessary.
Once we had the base plan cleared with our model mentoring client, we began the formatting of the document. When we had a few pages ready, we sent them to her for her review. Typically the pages we send include some of the heading styles, part of a complete table of contents, and a good amount of running text. This step is helpful because it gives the client a good sense of how the document will look, and if the client wants to make changes to the design, now is the time to do it! It would be less efficient and more time-consuming if we completed the whole document, and then after seeing it, the client decided they wanted to make some major changes.
The model mentoring client really liked the direction of the sample pages, and so we moved ahead with the rest of the document. The end result was a clean and well-balanced guide that was easy to read and easy to navigate.
Every project is different, of course, but we have found that it helps tremendously to implement a system that allows the client to become part of the process, especially those that involve formatting, when the client usually has some kind of vision of how they want the finished document to look. We show, rather than tell, whenever we can. In the case of the model mentoring client, she loved the finished guide and was pleased with the process.
We want our clients to feel involved in the project, and ensure that they are informed about what is going on at each step. Our tailored approach to editing and formatting accomplishes that well!
Do you have a document that you need edited and formatted? Please get in touch with any questions you might have! You can reach us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.