How do you write and design at the same time?

The challenge of combining the written word and creative design and layout.

As a graphic designer with twenty plus years of experience, I have worked in a number of environments and on many long format projects. Projects that have significant amounts of content, particularly the written word always present a similar dilemma. How do you combine the skills of the writer with that of the designer and ensure the process is efficient? The designer really wants the final written draft, but often this is not available at the beginning of the task or the client wants to visualise the format and layout before finalising content. Sometimes content is subject to live updates right up to deadline day, as is the case with financial reports for example. Often once a design is created rewrites, reformatting, revisions and updates have to be supplied and updated into designs manually by the design team, driving frustration for all involved.

This issue is a common challenge for anyone involved in the writing of the printed word and there are as many different approaches to solving the issue as there are letters of the alphabet, if not more. I want to discuss one option for writers and businesses that have Microsoft Word and Excel as their first choice content creation and writing tools, but that work with designers that create using Adobe InDesign.

Wordsflow

Wordsflow (http://emsoftware.com/products/wordsflow/) is a software plugin for Adobe InDesign that allows Microsoft Word and Excel content to be directly imported into formatted Adobe InDesign documents. Once this link is established, writers and content owners can continue to work on their version of the draft while the design team progress the creative layout. Once updates are ready these can be imported automatically into the design. Benefits are that formatting in the InDesign file is unaffected by written updates massively reducing the number of minor marked up text corrections that designers are required to complete. Of course, this approach does not solve the disruption that major content changes or design format adjustments can cause to a project. It can though given significant benefits as projects progress and become more stable in format but continue to require low and medium writing and content adjustments. Anyone who has experienced supply marked up text corrections or adjustments to a design team and received back a draft with some missing or additional errors introduced through misunderstanding or human error will truly love this tool. No more need for multiple people in the chain to affect the same change. Make the correction in the master Microsoft draft, hand over to the design team, update the linked file, print and proof. Job one.
If this sounds too good to be true, I can promise it’s not. For more information on this subject and other time-saving approaches to your design workflow, please just get in touch. I will be happy to discuss your needs and reduce your stress levels.

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