Update on writing manuscripts in MS Word 2007

Nature Publishing Group (NPG)‘s Chief Technology Officer, Howard Ratner, has posted an update on Nascent (NPG’s web publishing blog) about Microsoft Word 2007 (DOC X) for authors writing for science, technology and medicine (STM) publications.

Howard hosted a meeting on 25 July 2007 at the NPG office in New York for staff from Microsoft, the American Institute of Physics, the American Geophysical Union, Science, Inera (producers of the eXtyles automatic editing tool), Aries (in this context, producers of manuscript tracking systems) and NPG. The publishing participants provided a high-level overview of the various stages involved in a typical journal’s publication process, from the author writing the manuscript, through submission to publication, including a quick overview of the types of software systems and standards used to aid in these workflows. This was then followed up by presentations from Inera and Aries detailing the problems Word 2007 is causing for editing tools and manuscript tracking systems.

In his Nascent post, Howard details some of the outcomes of this fruitful meeting:

—Microsoft will establish a page on one of its websites with more advanced details on how to best use Word 2007 in a publishing environment. (For example, an image of an equation created when saving a Word 2007 file to Word 2003 carries semantic information that can be reused when reopening in Word 2007 file.)

—Microsoft will consider adding text to its help file with Word 2007 especially about its Math Markup Language Support.

—Microsoft will educate publishers by more frequent presentations at publisher events.

Howard also provides links to more information of use to authors, including this summary by Bruce Rosenblum of Inera, and this set of Connotea bookmarks on DOC X , to which you can add.

Nature is currently testing Word 2007 manuscripts in its editorial production system. If you are using Word 2007 and have a sample manuscript (created from scratch in Word 2007) that you can send us, please do so, as an attachment, to the authors’ email address. We are particularly interested in equation-heavy manuscripts, as our experience is that equations and symbols (Greek letters and so on) provide the most stringent test.


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    Jonathan Hunt said:

    I find it disappointing that the opportunity the the introduction of docx brings (i.e. the need to update publishing systems anyway) isn’t being used to rethink having publishing systems linked to a specific vendor’s file format and instead giving preference to an open, accessible, standardized (now ISO ratified) format that is implemented by a variety of vendors (Yes, I mean Open Document Format) and instead assuming that the new file format must be defined in Redmond.

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    Maxine said:

    Maxine responds to Johnathan Hunt: Thanks for your comment. The text on Nature and other NPG journals is fully accessible via the OTMI project (open text mining interface). See this Wikipedia entry and this Nascent post for an update: /wp/nascent/2007/07/otmi_at_bionlp_2007.html.

    The vast majority of our authors submit (and use themselves in their daily work) the proprietary format. We use (other proprietary) systems that can (until docx) process that format. But what we, as publisher, output onto the web is fully accessible in a machine-readable standardised format as you outline.

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