Editioning Software

Microsoft Word guru Steve Hudson has been sending me some interesting things. Today I’d like to introduce you to his “Editioning” macro, which allows you to use true conditional text in Microsoft Word 97 and above. Conditional text is the thing to use if you need to change a document in different ways for different audiences. I’ve written before about using Word’s Hidden formatting to create conditional text:


Steve, however, has taken the idea to greater heights of power and usability. For your convenience, I’ve placed his template (with its accompanying toolbar and macro) on our Web site, and you can download it here:


After you’ve downloaded it, you’ll need to unzip it. If you don’t already have software to do this, you can get the popular WinZip program here:


Macintosh users can use StuffIt Expander, available here:


Once the template is unzipped, you’ll need to load it as a global template or add-in, which you can learn more about here:


And here:


Finally, here’s how to use the program:

1. Open or create a document that will be your source document for the various versions you want to create, and be sure to keep a backup of this document.

2. Use Microsoft Word’s Highlighter feature (available on the Formatting toolbar) to highlight the text that will appear only in the various versions you’ll be producing. For example, let’s say you’re writing the documentation for a computer program that will be produced in three versions: basic, intermediate, and advanced. Some of the documentation will apply to all three versions, but some of it won’t. For example, the advanced version will have features not available in the basic version, and you don’t want the documentation for those features to show up in the basic documentation. So let’s say that you highlight the information that applies only to the basic version in yellow, the intermediate in blue, and the advanced in red. Save this document with a new name, such as “Single Source.”

3. With the Editioning template loaded, you’ll see a new Editioning toolbar on your screen. Click the Editioning button to start the program.

4. In the “Color” box, on the right, click one of the colors you want to use, such as yellow.

5. In the “Description” box, on the bottom, type in a description of what that color represents, such as “Basic.”

6. Click the “New” button to add the color and its description to the “Current List of Editions” box. (You can also click the “Delete” button to delete them.)

7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for each color you want to use.

8. In the “Current List of Editions” box, click the color/description for the type of document you want to produce. For example, if you wanted to create the basic documentation, you’d click “Yellow Basic.”

9. Click the “Publish” button.

10. Click the “Exit” button to close the program. (It will remember your definitions for the next time you use it.)

Now, in the document on your screen, all of your *unhighlighted* text will be preserved (since you want to use it in all of your versions), and the text that was highlighted in the color you selected (yellow) will also be preserved (but now unhighlighted). Text that was highlighted in other colors (blue and red) will be removed. So, you now have the basic version of your software documentation! Be sure to save it with a new name (such as “Basic Documentation”), and be careful not to save it over the top of your previously marked-up file.

That’s it! Rinse and repeat for your other versions. Many thanks to Steve for making this program available.



Several subscribers provided useful tips this week, some with contrasting points of view. Many thanks to them all!

ON AUTOMATIC CORRECTIONS (see our past few newsletters):

Steve Hudson suggested the following automatic (or semiautomatic) correction:

has the potential to -> can

Kathleen Much (kathleen@casbs.stanford.edu) wrote:

You recommended: fortuitous (replace with “lucky”)

You’re right to check the usage, but what if the writer is actually using “fortuitous” correctly, to mean “by chance”? 🙂

I responded:

Then the editor should leave it alone. 🙂

Kathleen makes a good point. Many such corrections should *not* be made automatically or without thought. Please be judicious and remember that the computer is a tool, a means to an end, and not an end in itself.


In our last newsletter, I asked for ideas about how where to use nonbreaking spaces and got some interesting (and useful) responses.

Lou Burgoyne wrote:

Phone Numbers, Addresses. Also Use Non-breaking hyphens.

Another subscriber (Martin) wrote:

useful after Mr or Mrs

Anne K. Bailey wrote:

I use it [the nonbreaking space] so often that I’ve got it mapped to my keyboard (alt s) so I can insert it without having to think about it (at least when using Word). I *always* use it in the following situations (I’ll use a tilde to represent the nonbreaking space):

Between a first name and a middle initial (Anne~K. Bailey)

Between the two parts of certain last names (Vincent Van~Gogh)

Between the month and the day (September~11, 2001)

Between the word “percent” and the number (75~percent)

Between the word “page” and the number (page~42)

Between the word “age” and the number (age~65)

Between a number and the word it modifies (15~days) (three~times) (18~years old) (six~miles) (12~inches)

Between two parts of most compound words (pay~grade) (New~York)

Between the time and “a.m.” or “p.m.” (7:00~a.m.)

In addition, I often use a nonbreaking space to force line endings. I’ve seen people insert a hard return in the middle of a paragraph to force the line endings to look “right.” However, my preference is to use a nonbreaking space to force a particular word to the next line. That way, if the text is later edited and the line endings change, the nonbreaking space won’t necessarily have to be removed, but a hard return would definitely have to be found and deleted.

(I would have used a nonbreaking space between the words “hard” and “return” in the previous paragraph.)

Steve Hudson wrote:

I never use the non-break space. My Designer and I both agree that the examples we have seen it suggested to use don’t actually add much to the readability and do interfere with justification. The main two examples are 75 percent and Dr Bob. To fully demonstrate the futility of the percent, what if one wrote seventy five percent, all with hard spacing? You could have half a line in nothing flat.

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