• Demonstrate proficiency in word processing, desktop publishing, and electronic publishing applications.
• Define and distinguish among word processing, desktop publishing, and electronic publishing. Provide examples.
• Identify features of electronic text.
• Describe best practices in word processing, desktop publishing, and electronic publishing.
• Define electronic publishing and discuss examples in library situations.
• Discuss the reasons for producing professional quality print and digital documents.
• Describe the use of online publishing tools to produce books.
• Discuss best practices related to producing professional quality library documents including instructional materials.
Word processing is primarily associated with the production of text-based documents that require basic layout such as margins, line spacing, and limited images. Tools such as Microsoft Word and Apple Pages are examples.
Desktop publishing is the application of page layout skills to the production of a variety of documents (e.g., fliers, invitations, pamphlets, books) that combine text and images. Desktop publishing software provides more control over design, layout, and typography than word processing. Electronic pages or virtual paper pages can be produced. Virtual paper pages are designed to be printed on physical paper. Tools such as Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Publisher are examples.
Electronic publishing is the digital publication of e-books, digital periodicals, and digital library materials. It does not include using a paper printer or creating a physical product.
Much of the communication that takes place through computer technology involves written language. From taking notes in a word processor to writing email, text communication is the most frequent use of the computer and Internet.
Text editors were the first popular tool for computers. A basic text editor is available with most operating systems including those for mobile devices.
Notepad is the basic text-editing program that comes with the Windows operating system. Files are saved with the .txt file extension.
TextEdit is the text editor that comes with the Mac operating system.
A basic text editor is commonly used to create raw HTML and CSS files.
Word processing was one of the first applications of the personal computer expanding the features of a text editor. Today’s tools may include project tracking, collaboration tools, language translation, voice recognition, and speech. In addition, newer high tech text editors can be found within writing and learning spaces in most technology environments today from smartphones to 3D worlds.
Although most people think of word processors such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, there are other tools for creating, editing, and organizing text.
Also seek out tools that facilitate collaboration such as Google Docs. Also, consider the end product. In other words, the PDF file format has become a very popular way to share electronic documents because anyone can download the Adobe Reader software.
Look for templates to facilitate writing writing layouts and projects.
As a student, you can download Microsoft and Adobe products from IUware. Please download the latest versions of these packages for use in your courses.
Many word processors such as Apple Pages contain special features and templates that make advanced page-layout easy. However sometimes you need a tool that can organize text along with graphics and other elements that goes beyond what a word processor can provide.
Microsoft Publisher is an example of a basic page layout program. Some people with Windows have this program, but it’s not universally available.
For professional-quality layout, seek out desktop publishing packages such as Adobe InDesign.
An increasing number of online page layout tools are available. For instance, MailChimp provides tools for both creating and sending electronic newletters.
Regardless of the tool, be sure to export documents as PDF files for sharing.
As a student, you can download Microsoft and Adobe products from IUware. Please download the latest versions of these packages for use in your courses.
Features of Electronic Text
Before the introduction of computer-based text editors, the writing process was a time-consuming chore requiring the writer to physically write then rewrite each draft using pencils, typewriters, and erasers. The introduction of the word processor allowed writers to save time and energy at each stage of the writing process. Unfortunately, many people still think of the word processor as an expensive typewriter and miss many of the features that make it a powerful tool for research and writing. Let’s explore some of these features.
Collaborative Writing. Using traditional tools, collaborative writing was difficult. Authors worried about being able to read the handwriting and notations of their peers. Each draft had to be physically moved from one location to another. Writing an article could take months or years. Today's collaborative tools such as
wikis allow writers to work on documents simultaneously from locations around the world. They can add notes, track changes, and apply text styles instantly.
Editing Tools. Text-editing tools allow users to easily add, cut, copy, and paste. In addition, there are many other options for creating, organizing, and manipulating text. Today's tools can be manipulated by a mouse or track pad, however tools such as Smartboard and tablets allow the use of fingers and wireless pens for manipulating text. These wireless pens can also be used for writing on tablet notebooks and electronic paper.
Hyperlinks. From website links to interactive novels, hyperlinks is one of the key benefits of digital writing. Through the use of tools such as anchors, bookmarks, and links, creators can provide access to help, glossaries, more information, alternative approaches, or endless other materials. Hyperlinks allows non-linear access to text files.
Tags. The use of tags is changing the way that text and other information is accessed on the Web. Tags are keywords or descriptive terms used for classifying information. Folksonomies are informal, dynamic methods of retrieving digital information through the Internet using these tags as a labeling system.
Translators. Language translators allow people to easily translate documents or write in different languages.
Voice Recognition & Speech. Many tools are available to read written word aloud providing access to visually impaired learners as well as poor readers. Speech recognition software allows writers to speak into their computers and have the computer turn speech into text in a word processor.
Smart Tools. From smart cell phones to smart pens, there's a wave of new tools for writing "on the go". For example, digital pens can capture and store hand-written notes that can be imported into a word processor.
Best Practices in Text Editing
The key to using a word processor in learning is thinking of writing as a process. Use the word processor for brainstorming, then prioritizing ideas. Use the editing features such as cut, copy, and paste to treat your work as a living document. As new information is found, documents are reorganized or ideas replaced. Most people are familiar with word processing, however there are many features you may not have used before.
Font Color. Use font color as a tool in collaborative writing. Each participant uses a different color for adding their ideas and revising the text. Dark colors work best. When everyone agrees to the final draft, you can turn the whole thing back to black. This is a fun and easy way to write a collaborative book review or group report.
Color can also be used by individual writers as they prioritize, categorize, or brainstorm ideas. Different colors can also be used as new phrases or descriptive words are added. Writers can see their writing evolve.
Comments. Students, teachers, and librarians can all use the comments function in many different ways. Students can use comments for personal notes and peer review. Teachers can provide comments without intruding into student work. Librarians can provide information access ideas, guidelines for use, or grant writing suggestions.
Tracking. Most word processors have a way to track changes. This is useful for tracking your own changes from draft to draft. It's also helpful when collaborating with others.
Audio. Most word processors now have an audio tool. This tool can be used to record notes. It can also be used to make comments during peer review.
Forms. Forms can be used for many activities. The form tool can be used in libraries to create a request for information, to survey patrons, or to submit a report. Create interactive stories using the forms option to create pull down options. This is particularly helpful for children who are practicing new vocabulary.
Spell and Grammar Checker. Although some educators may think of the spell and grammar checkers as a way to avoid good mechanics, they can also be a tool for learning because they make youth aware of their errors.
Speaker. For auditory learners, the speech elements in Microsoft Word are particularly valuable. Learners can listen to the flow of a sentence. When students get writers block, it's helpful to listen to the sentences to stimulate ideas. Reluctant writers can find hearing their work motivating. The speaker option is also useful in reading directions that are above the reading level of the student.
Online Publishing Tools
In the past, an author worked with a professional publisher to produce a book.
Today, individuals can use one of the many online publishers.
For instance, students at Decatur Discovery Academy in Grades 7-8 published their own historical fiction book called That A Man Can Stand using Lulu.
Copies of this student publication were on sale at both the school and public library. Copies were also available for circulation at both libraries.
Electronic publishing is the production of digital publications. These documents may be published using traditional media such as such as CD-ROM and DVDs or through online sources for digital download. They may be distributed as electronic databases, on blogs, or through podcasts.
Documents may be saved in many file formats such as HTML, PDF, epub, mobile app, or other file formats.
Electronic publications may be open access, pay-per-view, on demand, or subscription-based.
Increasingly libraries are subscribing to electronic publications such as academic journals. In addition, e-books are becoming increasingly popular.
Publishing in epub is becoming increasingly popular. No special software is needed to publish electronically. Many word processors and desktop publishing software will export in the epub format.
Professional Quality Documents
Whether creating an annual report to submit to a library board or generating a marketing flier to promote an after-school program, librarians need to be able to produce professional, high quality print and digital documents.
Reasons for Professional Quality Documents
Professionalism is an important part of being an effective library and information professional. That professional is reflected in every email message, policy memo, and publicity material that is viewed either internally or externally.
Spelling and grammar are just the beginning. The contents of documents should be clear, concise, and accurate. The layout should be visually appealing. Every document should reflect the professional’s best work.
It doesn't matter if you're a small town public librarian or the director of a national library, professionalism is essential.
Match Documents with the Professional Situation
When producing documents in a professional situation, be aware of the goal of the writing and the intended audience. Consider the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the document?
- Who is the intended audience for the document?
- Who might be affected by the document?
- What is the context or situation surrounding the document’s production?
Best Practices for Professional Quality Documents
Whether posting an assignment in Oncourse or writing an email communication to your instructor, a professional mindset should begin in graduate school. Librarians and information professional are often required to produce high quality documents. Below are ideas for creating professional quality work:
- All documents should contain a title and author including the institution’s name when appropriate.
- All documents should be well-organized using techniques such as informative headings and subheadings to promote skimming and scanning. These headings and subheadings should help readers identify levels within the document. Content should move from general to specific.
- Long or complex documents such as collection development policies should be easy to navigate.
Include a table of contents and sometimes an index to promote ease of use.
- All documents over one page should include a header or footer containing the document title, sometimes the author or institution, and page numbers.
- Shapes such as lines can be used to separate the body of a document from the header or footer. Boxes can be used to share pull-quotes, statistics, charts, graphics, or other visual information.
- Text and graphics should be integrated together.
- Fonts, colors, and styles should attract rather than distract from reading. Any backgrounds should have enough contrast for easy reading.
- When using screen captures, use lines, arrows, and notes to focus attention.
Make Professional Documents Readable
Professional documents should be readable. Below you’ll find ideas to make your documents more effective.
- Avoid professional jargon. Define unfamiliar terms and spell out or explain abbreviations or acronyms.
American Library Association (ALA)
- Avoid complex sentence structures that can confuse readers.
- Provide in-line citations, reference lists, and other sources to support statement.
Professional documents should be readable (Lamb, 2014).
- Use examples to clarify points.
- When addressing questions, begin with a restatement of the question to provide a context for the answer.
- Use approaches that conform to the type of document such as letter, memo, report, or policy.
- Use indentation and bullet points to improve readability.
- Bullets help readers scan through key ideas.
Library and information professionals must have skills in assisting users. As such, they often design instructional documents including step-by-step instructions for using the laminator, accessing the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog), or searching an electronic database.
Types of Instructional Documents
Producing these documents requires skills in technical writing. You may be involved in creating the following types of documents.
- Quick-start: resources to help users who wish to get started quickly
- Demonstrations: examples of specific searches, features, typical use
- FAQs: frequently asked questions can be helpful for those who are already users
- Samples: a wide variety of examples showing different uses such as topic options, subject area applications, and use ideas. Lists are very helpful such as sample questions, topic lists, or results.
- Practice: provide situations or examples where users can develop and test their skills.
- Case Studies: stories of successes and inspiration for potential users
Producing Instructional Documents
When producing instructional documents, consider the following guidelines.
- Identify your audience including their reading level, entry skills, and experience with the topic or technology.
- Identify what you want your learners to be able to do or talk about.
- Provide very specific step-by-step instructions. When working with software, it’s helpful to provide an action followed by a description or visual of what they will see or experience.
- Rather than using a paragraph form, organize steps as a list.
- Use short, concise phrases or sentences. Use active, descriptive words.
- Be consistent in your use of terms, styles, and layouts.
- Provide a side-bar or box with tips, trouble-shooting ideas, or common problems.
- Use fonts and styles consistency and for specific purposes. For instance, boldface key words, use italic for examples, or a specific color for labels.
- Use checklists to help readers troubleshoot problems and review the process.
- Provide sets of FAQs to assist users with problems.
- Provide examples and samples so users can see what they can expect to achieve.
Graphics in Instructional Documents
When designing instructional materials, make effective use of visual representations.
- Use charts, graphics, and diagrams to show the flow of a process, examples, the key ideas, or statistical information.
- Avoid the use of images such as cute clipart or pretty
landscapes that might distract from the message.
- Use photographs of the actual equipment being discussed.
- Use screen captures to orient the user. These are also called screen shots, screen dumps, print screens, or screen grabs. Users need to see what will happen when an action is taken. These screens can be very reassuring, particularly for novice learners because they let the learners know they are in the correct place.
Library and information professionals need skills in using word processing, desktop publishing, and electronic publishing applicatons effectively and efficiently.
Professional quality library documents should be produced including instructional materials to assist library users.