Archive for the ‘Author-it v5’ Category


Add an Author-it AfterPublish macro to the Word template

October 5, 2008

You can do some interesting things with AfterPublish macros in Word when you use Author-it. I’ve documented some macros on this site (check the Software > Author-it v5 category on the right). But if you’re not familiar with adding a macro to a Word document, then this can seem really daunting. So here’s how to add an AfterPublish macro to an Author-it Word 2003 template (these steps will be different for Word 2007):

  1. Open the DOT file as a DOT, not a DOC.
  2. Go to Tools > Macro > Macros.
  3. Change the Macros In field to the name of your Author-it template.
  4. Select AfterPublish from the list.
  5. Click Edit.
  6. Go to the end of the AfterPublish macro—the final “End Sub” line.
  7. Paste the macro on the next line after “End Sub”.
  8. Copy the name of the macro (e.g. if the macro starts with “Sub CustomProperty()”, copy only the “CustomProperty” bit—that’s the macro’s name).
  9. Go back to the top of the macro and paste the name of the macro on a separate line BETWEEN Sub AfterPublish() and End Sub for that section (see below).
  10. Save and close the Microsoft Visual Basic window.
  11. Save and close the template.

The top section should look something like this, where each dotted line represents other macros within the AfterPublish macro, and where CustomProperty is the name of the macro you just added in steps 6 to 8.

Sub AfterPublish()
    . . . 
    . . .
End Sub

Author-it presentations

September 15, 2008

Did you know that Author-it allows you to create PowerPoint-style presentations, but without using PowerPoint! By using some clever coding, the entire presentation runs in a browser window, and can run in an unattended continuous loop for kiosks or tradeshow booths.


[This article was first published in the March 2005 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked September 2008]


Author-it: Change table heading shading in Word

September 4, 2008

If you have added heading shading to tables in your Author-it topics, but want a different colored shading in the Word output, you can add an AfterPublish macro to your Author-it Word template to make this change automatically.

For example: Let’s say you used a green shading for all your table headings in Author-it. Maybe you did this because it was an easy way to distinguish the heading from the rest of the table, or perhaps the corporate branding required it. But now you’ve been asked to make all the table headings gray in the Word output. You have a couple of choices:

  1. Find EVERY table in Author-it and manually change the table heading shading. Not a viable option in the short term, and a painful process even in the long term.
  2. Use an AfterPublish macro to make the change at the time of publishing.

But what if you’re reusing these tables across various customer or product documentation? You may still need the green for Customer A but need gray for Customer B or blue for Customer C, etc. For this scenario, Option 1 is no longer an alternative—you have to use Option 2. At least until Author-it has a different way of styling the table properties.

The AfterPublish macro below finds all tables with a particular color in the heading and replaces that color with another color. You can use RGB values as shown here: mycell.Shading.BackgroundPatternColor = RGB(204, 230, 221)

or Word’s color values, e.g.
mycell.Shading.BackgroundPatternColor = wdColorLightOrange

NOTE: The underscores at the end of a line indicate that this line continues to the next; these break indicators are there for display purposes only.

Sub TableHeadingShading()
'Changes the background colour of a table cell _
colored with the first RGB value

Dim mytable As Table
Dim myrow As Row
Dim mycell As Cell

For Each mytable In ActiveDocument.Tables
For Each myrow In mytable.Rows
For Each mycell In myrow.Cells
If mycell.Shading.BackgroundPatternColor = _
RGB(229, 255, 209) _
Then mycell.Shading.BackgroundPatternColor = _
RGB(204, 230, 221)
End If

Next mycell
Next myrow
Next mytable

End Sub

Author-it: Find all topics not in any Book

August 31, 2008

It’s a while since I needed to do a creative search in Author-it, but a couple of weeks ago I was trying to identify all topics based on five different topic templates that are not in any book at all—my ‘orphan’ topics. So I tried this search in Author-it v5.0 and got my list! Now I can do my housekeeping knowing that I’m only working with a small number of topics and not having to check the relationships of some hundreds of topics.

Here’s my advanced search criteria in case you need to do this yourself:

  • Advanced search: Turned on
  • Based On: I selected these five client-specific topic templates: <client> Chapter, <client> Glossary, <client> Normal, <client> First Chapter, and <client> Chapter (QRC).
  • In Book: I selected (No Books)

Click FIND NOW – Voila! All ‘orphan’ topics are listed.

Just watch out for any that may be embedded in another topic if you’re intending to delete them or want to change their release state to “Obsolete” or move them to a folder with only Admin permissions, or similar.

Hope this helps someone else. And if anyone has a quicker way to do this, please share.


Creating Word footnotes using Author-it

August 26, 2008

Here’s the scenario: Your document must contain footnotes in the Word output; for example, references to legal decisions, government legislation, or scientific papers.

So how do you go about it in Author-it? Essentially, there are three steps:

  1. Create a new hyperlink template just for Word Footnotes (you could create popups or expanding text on the same template for HTML outputs, but I won’t cover this in these instructions).
  2. Create a topic for each reference.
  3. Create a hyperlink based on the Footnote template for each piece of text where you want to place the footnote reference mark.


The instructions below:

  • are based on Author-it v5
  • create a footnote section at the bottom of each page in the Word document where the reference occurs, NOT a footnote section at the end of a chapter.

Create a new hyperlink template

  1. Create a new hyperlink based on (none).
  2. Select the Make this object an object template check box.
  3. Enter Footnote template as the object’s Description.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. While still on the General tab, clear the check boxes for the Help and Web outputs—Print should be the only selected check box. You may need to click each check box twice to get a completely clear check box.
  6. Go to the Print tab.
  7. Select the Footnote option.
  8. Select an Automatic Numbering style or create a custom style (see for details). In this example, select 1, 2, 3…
  9. Click OK.

Create a topic for each reference

The text for each footnote must be in its own topic. You can ignore the topic template or just use ‘Normal’—it won’t be used.

Tip: If you have a lot of footnotes, create a separate folder for the footnote topics and their links.

  1. Create a topic for each footnote. NOTE: There’s a limit of 500 characters (see “Update 28 August 2008” below).
  2. For each topic, add the text you want to display in the footnote.

Create a hyperlink for the relevant text

  1. Go to the topic where you want the footnote reference to appear in the Word output.
  2. Select the word or phrase immediately after which you want the footnote reference number to go. Include any quote marks, if necessary.
  3. Link to the footnote topic you created earlier using the Footnote Template.

Publish to Word and you should have a nice set of footnotes.

Update 26 August 2008: Interestingly, someone on the Author-it User Forum list had a problem today with Word footnotes. It seems her 10+ line footnote was disappearing off the page and not appearing on the subsequent page. She wanted to know what happened to it and how to fix it. The ever-knowledgeable Char James-Tanny replied with a link to a slew of possible solutions to Word footnote problems from the Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB article 212071).

Update 28 August 2008: Gretchen from Author-it posted to the Author-it User Forum that there’s a limit of 500 characters for a footnote. She referred to the Author-it Knowledge Center article ( which states:

Footnote: the unformatted text of the destination topic is inserted as a footnote.

Note: Footnotes are limited to a maximum of 500 characters and cannot contain multiple paragraphs or special formatting. If the destination topic contains more than 500 characters, only the first 500 characters are used.


Author-it: Duplicating objects

August 16, 2008

Although Author-it excels at content reuse, there are times when you might need to duplicate an object.

Duplication is a valid option in situations like these:

  • Create a new media/topic/file/style whatever object that’s the same as an existing one, except for minor variations
  • Create a new book that’s the same as an existing one, then remove topics from or add topics to the new ‘duplicate’ book so it now is different from the first.
  • Create a topic that’s the same in many ways than another one; for example, the beginning and ending steps may be the same, but the middle may vary from the other.

In all these cases, it is easier to create a duplicate and modify it, than to create the object from scratch (put it this way, if less than 50% of the existing object needs to change, I’ll duplicate it in preference to creating another from scratch). And a duplicate is necessary under these circumstances because you really DON’T want any connection with the thing you started from.

If you DO want to maintain connection, then you either have to create a new version (gets the same object ID), or use an embedded topic.

Duplicating is the cheat’s way of creating new things without having to build them from new. Everything you need is already there—the ‘based on’ template, the resizing and file path (if a file object), the output options, etc. In the case of topics, there’s even some text to play with.

Duplication is NOT the same as copy/paste – it’s actually more powerful. For example, in Author-it you can’t copy/paste a section that contains embedded content, but you *can* duplicate a topic that contains embedded content.

In Author-it v5.x, you can duplicate multiple objects at once (in v4.x you could only duplicate one object at a time).

In v5.x, you select the objects you want to duplicate, click the Manage tab on the ribbon, then click the Duplicate icon. Copies of all selected objects are made—you can find then at the bottom of the currently opened folder’s list. Their descriptions become “Copy of [original description]“.

Once you’ve made your duplicate objects, open them up, change their Description (and the Description on the output tabs too, if required), modify their contents or settings, then save. NOTE: If you use a manually-assigned file name for HTML output, you MUST give the duplicate a new file name, otherwise you’ll end up with blank pages in the HTML output.


Author-it: Logging a support call

August 14, 2008

If you’re a fairly new Author-it user then you may not know how to log a support call. You can log a call if something has gone wrong, for an enhancement suggestion, and even for a ‘how do I?’ question.

You’ll need to have an active internet connection to use the web interface.

Here’s how:

  1. Open Author-it or Author-it Administrator.
  2. Click the Help icon in the top right corner (v5), or the Help menu option (v4).
  3. Select Log a Support Call.
  4. The Author-it support web interface opens where you complete the details of your call, including the type of call, your Author-it version, your operating system, etc.

Another source of help is the Author-it User Group. The User Group is a place where you can hang out and ask all sorts of questions, but it is NOT a substitute for logging calls—Author-it Software Corporation can’t fix something they don’t know is broken. So do yourself a favor—log a call for an issue you’re having, and perhaps ask the User Group too.

With a logged call you know you’ll get an official answer. With the User Group you might get an answer—or you might not; and it might be an official answer—or it might not. And don’t forget, when you first join the User Group you have no idea of the credibility or experience of the person providing you with an answer, so you don’t know how relevant or correct the answer really is.

Please note: The User Group has been replaced by a user forum, hosted on the Author-it website at