American Petroleum Institute

This standards body is now producing record numbers of standards thanks to structured authoring and Typefi automated publishing software.

Video transcript

American Petroleum Institute (API) was founded in 1919 as a standards-setting organisation for the oil and gas industry. 

The organisation currently maintains more than 800 standards for petrochemical equipment, safe operating practices, and environmental protection. 

These standards are produced for print and digital formats and are often hundreds of pages in length. About 75 revisions and first editions are produced annually.

API standards are highly complex with numerous intricate tables throughout the documents. These tables often extend over several pages and contain nested tables and cells, mathematical formulas, and images.

Additionally, API follows a strict internal style guide as well as Chicago style, which introduces many additional requirements into document production.

The challenge: Slow and inconsistent manual production

Prior to 2017, the production of standards at API was a completely manual process that involved both in-house and outsourced editors. This split between in-house and external staff, along with high turnover, resulted in styling inconsistencies between documents.

The authoring committees writing the standards also never quite adhered to API’s required styles. Authors would regularly apply their own kerning and leading, create their own tables of contents and covers, and add in photocopied corrections. 

On top of that, documents were authored in Word and sent back and forth between authors who had different versions of Word—another massive source of inconsistency.

Inconsistent styling and formatting were so rampant that the production backlog quickly grew to more than 100 documents. 

At this point, a new editorial team was created with two main goals: eliminate the backlog, and transition to digital publishing. 

A new XML-based publishing workflow

The new editorial team at API recognised that something had to be done in order to force consistency across all the organisation’s standards documents. 

They determined that the best way to achieve this was by switching from Microsoft Word to XML-based authoring using STS and a fixed template. The team contacted Inera (maker of eXtyles) and Typefi to make it happen.

Inera played a crucial role in helping API convert Word to XML and maintain consistency in content formatting. This involved a new, structured authoring workflow which took away all creative control from the authors—their sole focus was now on content.

On the design side, Typefi helped API create a set of InDesign templates that included all of API’s house styles. Things like fonts, text parameters, colours, TOCs, front and back matter, and table styles are baked into these templates so they can’t be changed by anyone outside the editorial team.

The new workflow almost immediately made the content review process more efficient. Some authoring committees were slow to accept it, but the significant time savings eventually brought buy-in from the authors.

Automated publishing with Typefi

Typefi is a publishing automation system that uses structured content to enable automated composition and layout in Adobe InDesign.

The InDesign templates that API uses with Typefi are tagged with the same structure as the content created by the authoring committees. Typefi uses this structure to compose documents automatically—the software places tagged content into matching tagged areas within the templates.

Typefi handles all the typesetting and placement of assets. Typefi is also able to create tables automatically during composition, even when they’re large and highly complex.

Typefi can even produce multiple output formats simultaneously using the same source content. For API, that means print and digital PDFs, as well as EPUBs, can be produced in a fraction of the time it took before.

Additionally, Typefi can handle all of API’s unique publishing requirements. 

For example, when API needed to place a “purchasing bullet” in the left margin to show that a purchaser needs to make a decision on an item, Typefi created a custom script to make it possible.

“We used to have to place the bullet manually in the Word or PDF file before or after publishing. That was really time-consuming,” said Andy Charest, Senior Manager of Editorial Services at API. “This automated feature cut in half the time it would normally have taken to create a page proof of the document.”

Benefits of publishing automation

API can now produce all of its print and digital outputs using Typefi in a fraction of the time it took before. The outputs are consistently styled, and the review process is exponentially easier.

When the new API editorial team was created, they set a goal to produce 70 documents annually. In 2019, just a year after implementing Typefi, the team exceeded that goal and produced 80 documents. The same number was achieved in 2020 and 2021.

In 2022, API broke its own record and produced 95 documents, a testament to the power of Typefi and the dedication of the API team.

“[Typefi] was a big boon for editorial,” Andy said. “It was a learning process, but at the same time, it helped us to be more efficient in our publishing…it proved to be a game changer for us.”