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Progress? (Chicago 15th A is a tolerable template!)

Long, long ago when I was a rookie engineer and computers were mainframes and it cost around £1k a go to run a scientific programme, all our reports were hand written, checked by the boss and then sent to the Document Production Department where a dedicated person typed them into a primitive, DOS-based word processor guaranteeing conformity to house style, a trained draughtsperson turned your diagrams into things of beauty, and an editor made sure that the whole thing was correctly ordered and presented.  By the time you got it back -about week later - barring the odd minor error that had been missed or arose due to bad handwriting, it was ready to go.

Then came personal computers and people who did not know what they were doing started to type their own reports.  Properly set up indents gave way to clumsy use of the space bar and tab key.  People did not know that you are meant to leave TWO spaces after a fullstop before the next sentence (unless you work for Boeing then it's three).  Ham-fisted efforts to use the drawing tools saw ugly diagrams, and as for a house style, well forget it!

So along came Electronic Document Management systems resplendent with templates and macros, produced by very clever computer boffins but never quite doing what you needed them to, never quite flexible enough for what you had in mind.  House style was back, and CAD progammes improved the diagrams, but even so, all was not as it once was.  Wise employers retained some of their specialist document production staff (i.e. typists and editors) to tidy up the documents and work with the boffins to improve the software.

And then someone realised they were on to something good here, and, lo, came software that combined databasing, document templates and the macros to link them together.  And the scope was endless and a single programme could, well nearly, do the job for engineers, scientists, historians and theologians - just so long as they knew which template was the closest to what they needed and were willing/able to tidy it up before publication

Chicago 15th A is a tolerable template!  (Thank you nice kind supervisor for pointing me towards it) It nearly does what I need it to do.  All the frustrations with 'nearly' software I thought I'd escaped from continue.  Yes, it is quicker and more accurate than typing it all in myself, and when I get to large numbers of references and enormous bibliographies I'll be glad of it.  But progess?  I'm not entriely convinced!


  • And it can be tweaked to do exactly what you want - topic for a future supervision perhaps.

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