Case study: Design template for WHO Guidelines


The World Health Organization (WHO) needed a way for non-technical staff to generate PDF output to a consistent style—and Typefi had a solution.

The team built a custom workflow where content can be created in a simple Word template without using Typefi Writer. In this presentation from the 2022 Typefi User Conference, Kevin Bird, Typefi Solutions Consultant, discusses this unique workflow and how it enabled the WHO to streamline production of its WHO Guidelines.

“The Guidelines template [project] was identified as a use case for the WHO Transformation. And the WHO Transformation is the most ambitious and far reaching transformation of WHO since the organisation was established over 70 years ago.”

Transcript | Presenter


00:00 Intro
00:38 Case study background
01:57 Development process
04:36 Word template
05:52 Styling the Word template
07:22 Development challenges
08:54 Generating a proof
12:04 Next steps
12:56 Q&A

Intro (00:00)

KEVIN: Okay, so, hello and good morning. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kevin Bird and I’m a solutions consultant at Typefi.

I’ve been here for 4 years. Prior to that I ran my own business for 17 years, but I have been involved in type and typesetting during my whole career.

Okay, so today I’m going to present to you on behalf of Sophie at WHO—Sophie can you give us a wave? Thank you very much—an overview of the design template for WHO Guidelines. I put the slide up there, but I’m sure you’ve all heard about WHO, but just in case. And there’s a statement there.

Case study background (00:38)

So a bit about the background.

This project was originally proposed and championed by the World Health Organisation Press Department, and was presented at PPCG, which is the Publishing Policy Coordination Group, in 2019.

The Guidelines template was identified as a use case for the WHO Transformation. And the WHO Transformation is the most ambitious and far reaching transformation of WHO since the organisation was established over 70 years ago.

Okay, so prior to the Guidelines template, WHO were using a mixture of in-house production and outsourcing for guideline generation. This mixed approach led to challenges with consistency of the output along with cost and time implications.

So why a template? So the purpose of this template is to provide a stronger visual identity and brand recognition. So harmonising the content and layout. Standardising design features, simplifying the design workflow, enabling content to be reused and repurposed and to reduce the time and cost of production. Those are the key benefits of the template.

Development process (01:57)

So the development process. So in the initial development process, WHO undertook some of these following steps.

They reviewed the issues identified by the World Health Organisation Press Department during the graphic design and publication phase. They did a review of selected, published Guideline Review Committee Guidelines of which there are approximately 20, and defined the best practise in terms of structure, layout, and design.

And after that, they then developed a new InDesign template, which included a front cover, separate web annex and obviously contents for the body of the Guideline itself.

Along with that, they created a focus group with Guideline developers and other stakeholders to understand the extent to which this new template met their business needs.

And then there was review and the testing phase, which we are going through at the moment, for early adopters and group members. And this was to ensure that the template could be used by sort of technical and non-technical users.

So the InDesign template, developed by WHO, which included the relevant page layouts, content blocks, and typographic styles was presented to Typefi. After some template and content analysis, Sophie and I discussed how page elements such as, boxed text, tables and figures should be placed. You know, how elements that span page boundaries should continue, whether there should be continuation notices, lists, what type of lists there were, ordered, unordered, how many levels of those were required, and colour as well.

So color’s quite a big thing because it’s, defines what particular Guidelines series it belongs to, and what components were variable within that colour scope.

And also what output formats should the workflow generate. And once these were agreed, Typefi began adding the automation intelligence into the InDesign template.

So part of the development process as well is obviously WHO along with most other people use Microsoft Word to create an author content. But the requirement of this project was that no third party plugins or software were to be used to aid the content generation process. This is just gonna be sort of, you know, vanilla Microsoft word.

So the document should be styled using Word styles only, and that no macros or VB code should be added to the Word template.

Word template (04:36)

So what we did is we generated, we created a Word template that contains a set of paragraph and character styles, along with a few custom codes as well that allows the user to write content or copy paste content directly into the Word file.

This template sort of serves two purposes. It contains all of the available chapters and sections that could be included within a Guideline. And each section also contains comments and instructions to assist the user in adding content into the correct part.

So the Word template also contains a metadata table. And this table allows the user to control the colour of the paragraph headings, running headers, page artefacts, and bullet points that appear throughout the document. The user could also control whether an image is displayed on the front cover.

So as you see, the metadata table here is quite flexible. You can add additional rows to the table and populating these rows with additional name value pairs would create corresponding Typefi fields in the CXML. Those could be then used within workflow actions or the InDesign template.

Styling the Word template (05:52)

So styling a Word document. So to help the users, a visual guide was developed, to enable users to quickly and accurately apply Word styling.

So a visual guide displays a paginated sample guideline, and this gives the user an overview of the document structure. So the comments in pink sort of guide the user as to what sections can be used. And the text in pink with the arrows sort of indicates the styles that have been applied in the Word document to generate the styled output in the Guideline.

So accompanying the style guide is a Guideline document creation PDF. So this document describes how to get started with Guidelines generation and lists the various document components that are used within a Guideline.

We also have Word styles and keyboard shortcuts saved with the Word template, which are also listed to make styling easier and quicker.

Along with that, accompanying that there are also two videos that we created and they guide the user onto how to style a document. So we have one on styling, and we also have a video showing the user how to use Typefi server and generate a proof using a Typefi workflow.

Development challenges (07:22)

Okay, so some of the challenges, and first one is quite obvious.

Shortly after the development of the template, we went into lockdown, and of course WHO were on the frontline. So the template testing sort of had to take a lower priority.

This template is still sort of a work in progress, but testing is taking place and we hope to have things sort of finalised very soon.

There was also an issue with soft styles and direct formatting in Word. We found that on occasion, we noted that when text was being copied from one Word document to another and if it had a lot of direct formatting applied, normally over 50% seemed to be the cutoff point. So direct formatting as in using the toolbar in Word, the ribbon. If there’s more than 50%, some of that formatting would get lost when copied over into the template.

So what we did to overcome that is, we added a custom coding that allowed us to develop a transformation and that runs on the server.

So again, we didn’t have any custom code within the template. And what that does is that takes a Word file as input, and it searches through all of the soft styles, direct formatting within a Word document, and it converts that styling into corresponding character styles. And those character styles are then obviously retained once that text is copied into the Guideline template.

Generating a proof (08:54)

So, once you’ve created and styled your content into the Word template, you can generate a proof.

So I’m just gonna run this short video, and this will demonstrate the process of generating a proof and final print ready files.

DEMO VIDEO: Here we have a file that has been created from the original Guidelines template with the appropriate styles applied, hence the blue colour of the type.

Let’s generate a proof.

I’ll select the Guideline proof workflow and select the Word document we have just viewed as the input file. I’m also going to run Guideline final so we can see the additional files generated from that workflow.

I’m also going to change the document colour in the metadata table so you can see the changes reflected in the output.

The proof workflow has completed and the PDF has been created for review. For interest, the workflow took 36 seconds and the PDF extent is 40 pages.

The document has been laid out as per the InDesign template rules with tables and boxes that are split over page boundaries, having had continuation notices added. Tables marked at side as side turned have been rotated, 90 degrees anti-clockwise and figures have been sized and placed.

The final workflow creates three PDF files, main body, front cover, and complete web. As the name suggests, main body contains the print ready body content with crop marks. The front cover is created using a JavaScript to adjust the spine width. Paper weight and volume parameters are supplied to the script so it can calculate the correct width.

The complete web PDF is a combination of the main body and front cover combined. This PDF has been optimised for web and view settings such as bookmarks and two page view have been set by a workflow action.

For reference, this example of a larger publication shows the spine adjusted to a width equal to or greater than 9 millimetres, which allows the spine logo and text to be displayed.

KEVIN: Okay, so that’s generating a proof.

Next steps (12:04)

So next steps. As mentioned previously, the template is still a work in progress, but some technical units are now running tests.

Again, as I said earlier, we hope to finalise that template very shortly.

And then next step is we’re looking to transform the CXML that is generated to BITS for upload to the WHO publications digital platform, which I think is eLife Lens, is that correct? Okay. So that can be distributed electronically.

And that’s me. I’ve whizzed through this, so I do apologise. I’m obviously hungrier than I thought for lunch, so *laugh*, I do apologise, but that’s me done. So thank you very much.

Q&A (12:56)

I hope you enjoyed the presentation. If you have any questions, please fire away.

Oh, hello Anna.

AUDIENCE: Hi, maybe I missed that, but how are, figures ingested? And how are you telling the template which size tables, figures and boxes are going to be? Is this a tag?

KEVIN: Well, at the moment it’s a single column layout. And, and so all the tables and all the figures actually expand to, to the width of the column.

AUDIENCE: And how are the figures ingested? Do you have them in the Word document?

KEVIN: Yes, yes. They’re in there.

AUDIENCE: And what, what is their format? For the figures.

KEVIN: They’re just imported as normal figures into Word.

AUDIENCE: Oh, okay.

KEVIN: I mean, the one thing I would change now looking back, is some of the list work that we did, because obviously when we first started, it was an early version of InDesign, which, for lists, when you had to have the first and last member of a list, you normally had to create a different style for the first and last member of a list. So you could actually change the spacing.

Of course, later versions of InDesign now allow you to control that via the paragraph styles option within InDesign, which obviously makes the transformation, you know, it makes the transformation less complicated.

Okay. Oh yes.

AUDIENCE: Yeah, no, I’m sorry. It was a bit different from our workflow and I didn’t really get sort of how we get the different sections. How does it know when it’s a new chapter?

KEVIN: Ah right, so in there we have a tag that’s called Chapter start. So it’s as simple as that.

So each chapter start there’s a, like a front matter start and there’s a back matter start and there’s a chapter start. So front matter and back matter aren’t numbered. They wanted those sections to be unnumbered. But the chapter sections are, so every time you enter chapter start, that would start a new numbering scheme, and then you’d have headings and sort of subheads under that.

So the tag, which I probably should have shown actually in the demonstration is, you know when Guy showed you the draft view? You would’ve seen in the draft view with the paragraph styles listed down the left hand side, that would’ve said chapter start or front matter start, and that’s the thing that triggers a new section in the InDesign template.

Okay. Oh, Jason.

AUDIENCE: How does it compare other Writer-less workflows?

KEVIN: Well, we do actually have another customer in here. So, Edward Elgar who have a Writer-less workflow, but they tend to use tags inside the Word document.

So they’re not afraid of angle brackets. They seem to quite like angle brackets. And so they have their own sort of, tagging vocabulary I suppose you could call it.

So they choose not to style things using Word styles. They put in angle brackets wrapped around certain parts of text to actually define what that’s going to or how that’s going to appear in the final document.

So you have different sort of coding lists for different types of publications. But I think that’s a historic way that you’ve worked and you’ve wanted to continue that through because of editors and so forth.

AUDIENCE: Just on that with our tags, I saw that you had a bit in the middle where you could change all of the soft styles to character styles. Would there be a way to change all of our tags into the paragraph styles as though marked up in advance? Obviously we use maths, so, because for CXML purposes if you could have styles marked up in advance that weren’t using the tags, or would the tags transform by…?

KEVIN: Okay, so, well, there might be a couple ways to do it.

So you can either try and address that from the source and try and look to map that. But of course the thing, you have a free form way of coding in terms of you can add a tag wherever you want. It’s not limited to a schema, so they’ll always be exceptions as to, we’ll be able to get the 80% rule, but the 20% will be quite difficult to determine where those extra tags fit in.

So we can either tackle it at the front end or you could tackle it at the back end and maybe look at once your InDesign file is composed, then maybe then you look to actually generating potentially a Word file from InDesign.

Would that sound right? Chandi, right? Yeah, yeah. So you’re doing the round trip file, so then you’ve got an InDesign file generated with all your tagging structure or you know, tags. So instead of having them as angle brackets inside the text, there’d then be Word styles in your Word file.

AUDIENCE: I just wonder if that’d be easier to create BITS and JATS later on.

KEVIN: Okay. Well, yeah, Robin’s here. We’ll probably have a chat with Robin. Okay.

AUDIENCE: Is there, so you mentioned that with WHO you’re working on a transform CXML to BITS. Is that something that might be more widely available?

KEVIN: At the moment, well, it’s one of those things that is custom to every customer, because obviously the, you know, depending on the format, there may well be, there’s probably gonna be discussions about additional metadata, as we’ve had those discussions before, Caroline, so there’s gonna be some additional information that’s gonna need to go into that BITS file.

So it’s how we put that additional information in, whether that’s captured at the start in the Word file, such as that, might have to expand that metadata table or whether it’s a process at the end where we add that additional data. But there will be some, some extra work around that.

But again, until we sit down and sort of have discussions, it’s difficult to put detail on that at the moment.

Okay. Over to you Chandi. Thank you very much.

Kevin Bird

Kevin Bird

Solutions Consultant | Typefi

Kevin began working with type in 1984 and joins Typefi with a wide range of experience in typesetting and data manipulation (learning PageMaker on a Mac IIci with a 9 inch mono monitor being a particularly fond memory).

More recently, Kevin has specialised in offering customers automated and interactive solutions. Utilising his knowledge in XML and XSLT, he has provided bespoke templates and end-to-end workflows to some of the UK’s leading tour operators, book publishers and the financial reporting sector.