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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-074
Communications Reference Guide
Communication products must present information clearly, concisely, and consistently in design, style, grammar, spelling, composition, and format. Many readers equate the quality of our research, the reliability of our innovations, and the competence of our research staff with the quality of FHWA's communication products. Publications provide a permanent record of developments in technology, implementation, and research.
Our communication products represent FHWA. To present the most professional image of the Agency, FHWA products must be technically accurate and appropriately comprehensive.
HRTM guides, oversees, manages, and produces a variety of communication materials to disseminate RD&T information to a wide range of customers in the transportation industry, legislators, scientists, associations, corporate America, and the public. The HRTM Communications and Outreach Team supports this effort with editors, writers, designers, journalists, communication specialists, photographers, marketing professionals, Web programmers, and others.
Note: All communication products shall be edited.
After identifying your audience(s) and defining your message(s), you must then determine the most effective way of reaching your audience.
If the subject of a document is not strictly RD&T related, the Office of Public Affairs must be consulted before the publishing process is begun. See chapter 9, "Guidelines for Media Relations." The only exception to this requirement is technical research reports, which must be reviewed by the office director in lieu of public affairs. The Office of Public Affairs has delegated authority to the office directors for reviewing all other publications for policy implications.
A peer/technical review should be conducted before each document is submitted for editing and publishing. This review should contain the necessary checks and balances to ensure that FHWA continues to publish accurate and high-quality documents. The COTR, who is responsible for the technical accuracy of the material in a publication, may involve the principal investigator or Federal staff responsible for the technology or staff study. This peer/technical review group should include subject experts both internal and external to FHWA, as appropriate.
Before submitting your communication product to HRTM, obtain support from your office director for moving forward on your job request. Make sure that technical experts and stakeholders already have given technical reviews and approvals, and that the copy you submit is final. RD&T staff must receive a hard copy HRTM Service Request Form that is signed by an office or technical director, or other delegate. Office directors also may submit the HRTM Service Request Form by e-mail.
The office director's endorsement or approval indicates several things, that he/she:
The HRTM Service Request Form is available in the HRTM administrative assistant's office or on the www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/ Web site under "Services." See appendix A for a copy of the form.
When you submit your print job, you also must submit an electronic Print Distribution Form, available from HRTM. The electronic form contains office addresses for all FHWA headquarters and field offices. For external distribution, an electronic Microsoft Excel document or self-adhesive mailing labels must be submitted with the communication product. See chapter 10 for additional details about publication distribution.
Use the following estimated times as a broad guideline for final HRTM communication product development and delivery:
NOTE: Layout and design can go through additional steps depending on approvals. This adds time and expense to jobs.
All communication products are edited electronically (using track changes) for consistency and adherence to acceptable style, punctuation, and grammar. COTRs must make a special request for hard copy edits. Edits normally will include checking sections for basic problems, grammar, and GPO Style Manual adherence. The process also includes analyzing, changing text to read well, and checking for organizational problems within the document (removing or indicating repetitive information, ensuring parallelism in headings and text, etc).
There are many variables that can affect the time and expense of communication products. You can avoid delays by submitting final text that does not need major rewrites or changes; providing quality, high-resolution photography or artwork if necessary; and providing original drawings or illustrations at the beginning of the cycle. (When submitting electronic files especially for layout, please submit high-resolution files at dpi 300 or greater for printing purposes.) Other factors that might delay a project include your availability for reviews and responses to questions, and whether your communication product needs black-and-white, two-color, or four-color processing.
The editor will provide a summary edit sheet that describes the edits in the document. In addition, the editor will contact the requestor before completing an edit if the job looks like it has major problems.
The COTR is responsible for reviewing all editorial changes and answering queries as requested by the editor. In the case of reports, the COTR who submitted the report or his/her contractor are responsible for reviewing all electronic edits or in the case of hard copy edits, reviewing and incorporating all changes into the document. This time should be built into a COTR's contract.
You will save considerable time by submitting a final publication and 508 materials (explained in chapter 3) that already have gone through your peer/technical review process. Additionally, reviewing edited materials quickly after they have been edited by HRTM will expedite the process.
Frequently, publications can be edited and returned to the COTR more quickly than the estimated timeframe. However, the publication process also relies on how quickly you and your contractor make the corrections indicated by the editor, and return the communication product back to HRTM with a corrected hard copy, electronic copy (CD-ROM), and the original, marked-up document (when applicable).
The following table provides a selection of the most commonly used proofreading marks. See the GPO Style Manual for a more complete list.
Topics: research, publications
Keywords: research, Federal Highway Administration research publication guidelines, report guidelines
TRT Terms: research, information organization, documents, monographs, reports, guidelines