Staff handbook written in Word and converted to a responsive Web layout

In recent posts, we’ve been describing different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online.

Here’s an example of a staff handbook that has been converted from Word to a responsive web layout.

staff handbook welcome page

The home page provides links to the main sections in the handbook. In this example, we also changed many of the sentences that were in the passive voice to the active voice.

We could have made more improvements:

  • Added colour to highlight what staff must do.
  • Provided links to related applications and forms.
  • Added images and flowcharts.

The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone or a tablet.

Converting policy documents written in Word to HTML – Example

In recent posts, we’ve been describing the different ways to publish policy and procedure documents online. Often, organisations want to write their content in Microsoft Word, as staff are familiar with the application. However, they also want a very nice, and usable, online version.

Here’s an example of a direct conversion from Word to HTML.

Before – Example Mobile Phone Policy IT-0022-v2

policy-example-before-screenshot

After – Mobile phone policy – written in Word  and converted to HTML

policy-example-after-screenshot

In this example, we have not amended the source content before conversion, nor the default template. We just imported the document and pressed the Build button.

The document has been broken down into a series of web pages, with a responsive web layout. This means the pages can be easily read on a mobile phone.

The writers would make any changes to the policy by amending the Word document. You’d then run the conversion again, and upload the revised web pages.

Cutting and pasting content into Word documents – Is there a better way?

Earlier this week, we were helping a large company finalise a bid document where they were required to use a Word file sent by their client. This involved taking content from the company’s repository of standard documents on SharePoint, and from emails, plus writing down information provided verbally by the Subject Matter Experts. The bid writing team had to cut the relevant content from a Word document (and emails, Excel spreadsheets, Visio files, Microsoft Project files and PowerPoint presentations), and then paste it into the bid document.

Before we started to work on the document, this had resulted in it containing a large amount of different formatting styles. For example, the content pasted from emails was in Calibri 10pt. font, and the content posted from Word was in Arial 11pt. This meant the bid writing team had to spend a lot of time remedying the formatting.

This method also meant there was no reliable way to embed content, like there is, for example, in Excel – if you change a cell in Excel, related cells in other places can update themselves automatically to reflect that change. For the bid document, any changes to the source content could trigger a further round of copying and pasting into our master document.

Continue reading “Cutting and pasting content into Word documents – Is there a better way?”

Why you probably shouldn’t use Word to create your policy documents

Flickr image "Holmes McDougall Employee Handbook" by Edinburgh City of PrintImagine you are an IT manager for an organisation that has been implementing new IT systems. You have now reached the point where you need to create and document the new IT policies and procedures. The organisation already has some general policies for IT in its staff handbook, but you need to provide more detailed information on how to use the organisation’s IT efficiently and securely.

For example, the staff handbook tells staff that customer information must be treated confidentially and only approved communication channels must used. The IT policy and procedures document will provide more detail  – that web email services (such as Yahoo Mail) must not be used to send customer information, because they often store a copy of the email even if you have deleted your sent message.

The best approach would be to have some sections in both the staff handbook and the IT policy document. In other words, the same content in different documents. Otherwise, staff would need to have two manuals open each time they wanted to check they were doing things correctly.

If you use Word, you’re likely to do this by coping the text from one Word document and pasting it into the other Word document. The problem with this approach is that when you make a change to the text, you need to remember to paste any amended sections into the other document. This make it very difficult to create customised variations of documents, such as cut down versions for managers or new staff, branch-specific versions etc. It becomes unmanageable.

One of the benefits of using some of the alternatives to Word is you can embed a piece of information into multiple documents. In a similar way to how you can use the same image in lots of different web pages, you can use the same chunk of text in lots of different documents. The advantage of this approach is that in the future you’ll only need to change the source, embedded chunk of text when it’s time to make a revision. That piece of text gets updated automatically (or semi-automatically) in all the documents that use it.

Displaying Help as a toolbar in Word

Here is an innovative way to provide users with access to documentation: a small (622KB) add-in that adds a “Get Started” tab to the Ribbon in Word 2007. The tab is a set of redirects to Word 2007 Help topics, demos, animated guides and support resources on Microsoft’s Office Online Web site. There are also “Getting Started” tabs for Excel 2007 & PowerPoint 2007.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=F587370C-FDAE-4EDE-B528-AC58031A5DFF&displaylang=en