Go in deep for a long overdue examination of InCopy, the features new to version CS2, how InCopy cut one major publisher’s 60-day book production schedule down to 9 days, and how it will save you time, man-power, and money over Microsoft Word in a collaborative creative and editorial workflow.
Running Mac OS X Panther, published in late 2003 by leading technology book publisher O’Reilly & Associates, used an InCopy-driven parallel workflow to slash the book’s production schedule by 10 weeks, add 8-12 weeks to the sales window, and increase sales of the book by one-third.
Authoring, editing, copy fitting, and proofreading–a linear process in the production of any book–all occurred simultaneously because of a maverick author and InCopy.
In August of 2003 Apple unloosed information about Mac OS 10.3 a.k.a. “Panther,” and O’Reilly’s goal was to release the book at Macworld Expo the following January. It was a tight deadline to write, layout, copy edit, and quality control the book in time, and once released, a rapid Mac OS X update schedule would limit the book’s commercial viability to only a few months. Author James Duncan Davidson had an idea to increase the life cycle of Running Mac OS X Panther. “We had to roll the final stages of copy editing and quality control into the writing schedule, which would normally add several weeks to the tail end of the project, during the production process,” said Davidson. “By conducting copy editing and QA simultaneously with the layout process, we could get the book to market much faster.”
Davidson setup a concurrent versioning system to track file versions, make backup copies, and manage check-in/check-out to Davidson and the Running Mac OS X Panther editor team. He then created InDesign templates mirroring the existing O’Reilly format and style.
Instead of allowing layout and layout-proofing to remain the final step in the workflow, Davidson and his team worked in parallel. As he wrote the first draft of each chapter in InCopy, Davidson flowed it into the InDesign template, posted the copyfitted chapter to the versioning server, and went to work on the next chapter. While he did that, technical, copy, and other editors each took their turns checking out each chapter, inserting corrections and comments in InCopy, and checking it back in for the next stop in the workflow.
“The author finished writing the final chapter of this book just after Thanksgiving and it went to press nine days later–a remarkable achievement,” said Chuck Toporek, senior editor for O’Reilly. “InDesign and InCopy helped us get the book out eight to twelve weeks sooner, guaranteeing that we met our window of opportunity.”
The entire process was allegedly run rogue–O’Reilly senior staff only learned of the deviation from accepted company practices after the book was finished. “We maintained the consistency we sought [and] produced the book almost two and a half months faster than other titles, which had a dramatic impact on sales,” stated Toporek. “The beauty is that people can’t tell that this book was created outside of O’Reilly’s traditional production process.”
O’Reilly & Associates is now using the InDesign-InCopy parallel workflow to produce other books.
Authors and publishers rely on Microsoft Word to write, review, and edit manuscripts, but because Davidson laid out his chapters as he wrote them, the only way to make Running Mac OS X Panther a success was to abandon Word. InDesign doesn’t contain the change tracking features required by the editorial process, and Word can’t edit InDesign files.
Separating Content from Layout
InCopy is a word processor companion to InDesign–with unique advantages over InDesign’s built in Story Editor and even the ubiquitous Microsoft Word.
In addition to its own INCX file format, InCopy can open, edit, and save InDesign INDD layout documents. It’s as simple as File > Open, and suddenly the content from all the text frames in InDesign are presented in a single list, ready for editing in a word processor view identical to InDesign’s own Story Editor. InDesign’s Story Editor is, in fact, a code chunk lifted from InCopy. If you can use the Story Editor, you’re already one-third of the way toward mastering InCopy.
Story view shows the document stories in a single, collapsible column. Beside the text are paragraph style indicators and, new to CS2, the depth of the story in configurable units (column inches, for example) as set in the InDesign layout. This, the most common editing view, focuses entirely on the copy. Lines wrap to the window and formatting is limited the bare basics of normal/Roman, italic, and bold.
The Galley view is very similar to Story view, but with two important differences: Copy is shown with accurate line breaks, exactly as it would wrap in the layout, and the addition of a line number column for reference.
Layout view shows the InCopy user an accurate and interactive snapshot of the InDesign layout, including her assigned frames. From this perspective, writers and editors can put their text in context. Depending upon the settings chosen by the InDesign designer, InCopy users may see the full layout, only their assigned sections, or the whole layout with everything but their assignments greyed out.
Text may be edited in any of the three views. If editors want to make copy or even style changes to text while watching the effect on the layout in real-time, they merely click in an assigned text frame in Layout view and begin typing.
Included in InCopy are identical palettes for all text creation and styling functions, including the Character, Paragraph, Table, Story, Swatches, Layers, Paragraph Styles, and Character Styles palettes, among others. Menus for Edit, Type, and Table add to the functionality of the palettes, leaving writers and editors to write or place, then format and fit their own copy. Accurate word and character counts, as well as a life-saving Copyfit Progress Info bar, which indicates the number of remaining lines in the text frame or the number of overset lines, take the responsibility for copyfitting off the shoulders of designers and put it where it belongs–on the editorial team.
Inline notes and document review features enable collaboration and editing without involving the production department. And, most remarkable of all, editorial personnel can now place images in frames or inline in text.
Many journalists and editors are responsible for choosing their own photographs, figures, and illustrations, and for captioning and crediting those images. At the InDesign creative’s discretion, picture frames may be incorporated into assignments, thus empowering the InCopy user to place and position her own imagery. InCopy supports placement of any image format that can be placed into InDesign, including TIFF, EPS, AI, and even layered PDF or Photoshop PSD files, with the same control over layers and layer comps. A fully functional Links palette enables imagery to be updated, replaced, and edited in their originating applications.
Regular departments and columns of a magazine–a “Letter from the Editor” column, for example–can be updated for the current issue entirely by the editor, who can copyfit, replace the illustration, and finalize the page. Production is then freed to focus its energy on sections of the publication that genuinely require their skills.
Word Processing, Not Page Layout
What editorial cannot do is change the layout.
Opening an InDesign document does not grant the InCopy user the ability to add, remove, or change frames or pages; such things are the sole domain of the designer, and are exclusive to InDesign. Although the wonder twins of publishing software share a common code base, making overlapping tools and features such as the Character and Paragraph palettes perfectly identical, all container-level functions are absent from thinner sibling InCopy.
All container-level tools are disabled–they can edit the content of frames created by the designer, but cannot modify the frames themselves. Placed images may be scaled, rotated, sheared, and fitted, but the picture frame is inviolable. Similarly, no tools exist for creating or converting objects to frames or even creating guides. Instead of the Selection and Direct Selection arrows in InDesign, InCopy CS2 users have a PageMaker-like Position tool with which to move, crop, and modify the contents of picture frames.
A limited Layers palette allows InCopy users to show or hide InDesign-created document layers, but they can neither modify layers–including renaming and reordering–nor create or delete layers. To further unclutter a Layout view, editorial staff can adjust display performance–including object-level display performance–as well as hide frame edges, guides, grids, and rulers.
So focused is InCopy on separating editorial from layout, that the Tools palette consists of only five buttons: the Type, Notes, Position, Hand, and Zoom tools.
The Control Palette has been replaced with four repositionable and customizable toolbars. Standard tools such as file Open, Close, and Save, as well as Find, Check Spelling, and Show/Hide Invisibles appear on the Command Bar. On the Reviewing toolbar are buttons to Accept or Reject changes, and to navigate between document changes and comments. The Galley & Story Appearance toolbar, which controls the on-screen only typeface and colors of those view modes, is a live user interface to the same options in InCopy’s preference. The final toolbar, the Copyfit Info bar, displays various statistics such as word and character counts, line numbers, and column depth relative to the whole story, the currently selected text, or from the cursor point to the beginning or end of the story.
In addition to 100% accurate copyfitting feedback and the Copyfit Info bar, InCopy has a few other advantages over the InCopy-lite-like InDesign Story Editor. The most useful of these is the Thesaurus palette. Supporting all of the same languages as the spell checker, synonyms and antonyms are at the writer’s fingertips, in a compact palette. Track changes enables editorial revisions and collaboration without going outside the actual publication.
In both Story and Galley view, overset text is highlighted, and the Copyfit Info bar’s indicator turns red and counts the number of overset lines. InDesign’s Story Editor provides no such feedback on overset text.
As a word processor, InCopy CS2 includes all the new language features from InDesign CS2, including optional dynamic spell checking, exportable user dictionaries, and workgroup dictionary integration. Of course, it also includes all the localized dictionaries installed with InDesign.
A trio of automation features helps eliminate repetitive tasks. With the fully-functional Scripts palette, advanced automated control of the application is enabled. InCopy supports not only its own scripts, but also InDesign scripts that use the tools and commands available in InCopy. The new automatic text correction dynamically replaces misspelled or user-defined words with other words on the fly. And text macros, unique to InCopy, function similarly to automatic text correction, but with some very useful differences. While automatic text correction is limited to words or short phrases, text macros can insert several paragraphs at a time–boilerplate passages need never be hand-typed or copied and pasted again. Another benefit of text macros is that invocation is user-configurable; macro text may be inserted automatically as replacement for a typed code or keyword, or manually via a user-assigned keyboard shortcuts. Text macros also enjoy the extremely useful extra convenience of optionally storing character and paragraph style attributes in the macro text.
InCopy can also save templates of its documents, enabling reusable pre-sized text areas, color swatches, styles, and document-attached dictionaries.
While InCopy can directly open, edit, and save INDD files, that isn’t the typical workflow.