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Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-074

Communications Reference Guide

Chapter 8—Electronic Publishing

Electronic publishing refers to any document or published item that is not printed on paper. Examples are CD-ROMs, Web pages, Web sites, publications, and multimedia presentations (such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations containing slides, sounds, and movies/videos such as .avi or .mov files).

File Formats

Multimedia options that provide special graphic enhancement, multimedia effects, or interactive applications can also be prepared. If you need special video or audio effects for a presentation, video wall, or other item, contact HAIM-20 or HRTM-3 for assistance. Keep in mind that multimedia presentations such as Microsoft PowerPoint, videos, and .mov files must also be compliant with Section 508, and they follow a different set of rules than those used for Web page or database software applications. See the Access Board's Section 508 Web site for more information.

Hypertext markup language (HTML) format is the required electronic format for all FHWA publications. It can be used to create a range of document styles, from simple, text-only items to those with elaborate graphics. Documents in HTML format adapt to different screen sizes and computer characteristics. In addition, HTML documents are easily searchable by Internet search engines and can be used by assistive devices, such as screen readers that "read" the code on a Web page and translate it into audio format for people who have vision disabilities. See information about CD-ROMs below and for Web site publishing.

Portable document format (PDF) can be prepared for a publication in addition to HTML format. If you want users to be able to print your document on their desktop printers so that it looks exactly like the original, consider also providing a PDF choice. However, PDF does not adapt as readily to individual computer formats, nor is it considered an "accessible" format for complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

For every publication created as an Adobe Acrobat® PDF file there also must be a Section 508 compliant HTML document. This is a requirement for files on the Internet, CD-ROMs, or StaffNet. If a PDF or other format is desired, it may be prepared and posted on an FHWA Web site along with the HTML version of the publication.

HRTM will work with HAIM to convert your file to PDF format. However, you still must provide Section 508 text for non-text elements, and must review the final PDF document very carefully. The automated conversion process can add unexpected errors to a document.

  • Compare page breaks with original file. Make necessary adjustments so that the PDF is a mirror image of the print version and the original electronic version.

  • Compare figures and tables with the original file. Make necessary adjustments to the figures and tables so that the PDF is a mirror image of the print version and the original electronic version.

  • Verify that the figures and tables are readable and printable.

  • Reduce file size, if necessary. The general rule of thumb is to divide anything 1 megabyte (MB) or larger into smaller files to help reduce download time. Divide the document into "thinner" increments by extracting chapters and saving them as separate files. Be sure to delete the extracted files from the original. Make the division logical (i.e., by individual chapters or a small grouping of chapters).

  • Use the correct publication cover. Have one created by HRTM, if required.

  • Submit an abstract of the publication in electronic format along with the PDF files.

  • Do not create Adobe Acrobat PDF documents from scanned "originals."

Zip Files

Zip files are preferred for large file downloads of 1 MB or larger. The group responsible for submitting the material should prepare the zip file to ensure proper integrity of its contents. A "read me" file with information regarding the material contained in the zip file, instructions (if needed), and contact information must be included. All files that are "zipped" into a zip file must individually be Section 508 compliant, including documents, presentations, multimedia, videos, movies, software, and software install shield programs.

Note: HRTM works with the Office of Public Affairs to provide initial and final clearance approvals for all publications—even if the publication will be published only electronically or on the Internet. This includes CD-ROMs, multimedia documents, and Internet-only publications. The only exception to this is research and technology technical reports, which must go through the HRTM editorial process.

Presentations

Overhead transparencies, slide shows, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, flipcharts, and similar visual aids are used to enhance and support a presentation and highlight and reinforce the important points of a presentation. Hard copies of the visual aids can be made as handouts to accompany a presentation. However, any CD-ROMs or electronic documents that are distributed at a presentation must be Section 508 compliant. PowerPoint presentations that are distributed from a Web site or CD-ROM also must be Section 508 compliant.

Technical Review

The technical expert/presenter is responsible for developing the material and ensuring that the information presented is factually accurate and in agreement with FHWA policy. At a minimum, a technical review by at least one peer within a division or program work group is recommended. In addition, it is recommended that the division chief approve the presentation.

Style

HRTM offers editorial and graphic design services, or administrative assistants in your office may develop presentations using current presentation software. The presenter is responsible for the appropriate technical reviews and for ensuring that a presentation is proofread for spelling and calculation errors. Either an HRTM contractor or a task order contractor with a private vendor (budgeted at the office level) can be coordinated through HRTM and is another source for presentation development.

When using PowerPoint presentations or overhead transparencies, the USDOT/FHWA logo must be used as an identifying factor. A sample of the logo is contained in appendix M.

It is best to include a headline and use only one idea for each visual. Ideas and relationships should be simple. A balance of words, charts, and graphics should be used to make presentations visually appealing. For readability, the type should be san serif (for example, Arial font style) and no smaller than 24 point.

Policy Implications

If the presentation deals with policy issues, the office director or designate is responsible for making sure the implications are in agreement with management policies.

Schedule

Timeframes for presentations developed in-house are the responsibility of the requesting office. When using HRTM services, expect about 2 weeks for turnaround, depending on length and scope of presentation.

Table 6. PowerPoint presentations, movies, videos—what to submit.

PowerPoint Presentation (PPT)

Movies (MPEG, AVI)

Audio (MP3, MIDI)

Photos (JPG)

Multimedia

(PPT, MPEG, AVI)

Deliverables for PowerPoint Presentations, Movies, Videos, Video Clips, etc.

X

X

X

X

X

HRTM Service Request Form

X

X

X

X

X

Originating File Format (i.e., PPT, AVI, etc.)

X

X

X

X

X

Section 508 text for non-text elements in Microsoft Word file

If

distributed via CD

If distributed via CD

If distributed via CD

 

If distributed via CD

FHWA Distribution Form

X

X

X

X

X

Accessibility according to Section 508

Notes: In addition to the above submission requirements and depending on the product and distribution of that product, other Section 508 guidelines may apply. For example:

A video or movie in a presentation may fall under the "Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.24.htm.

Any multimedia file also must include software applications to run or view it (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers,® PowerPoint readers, Microsoft Word readers, etc.) as executable zipped download files on the Web site and/or the CD-ROM and the software also must follow the "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.21.htm.

Presentations, movies, etc., accessible through an HTML or other Web interface must follow the "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm

CD-ROMs or zip files will need a readme.txt ASCII file with file structure breakdown, information about install shield program for software applications to run or view the media information (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers, PowerPoint readers, Microsoft Word readers, etc.)

If the electronic information or multimedia is presented on an unmanned kiosk such as at a trade show or event, the equipment may be considered a "stand-alone kiosk" and as such may fall under the "Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.25.htm

CD-ROM

CD-ROM publishing provides a multimedia communications solution that may contain components of audio, video, text, and animation. CD-ROM publishing either may supplement existing print material or be used as a stand-alone product. CD-ROMs will store up to 650 MB of information.

All files copied on CD-ROMs must be Section 508 accessible, including software, install shield programs, database models, PDF files, HTML files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, plug-ins (i.e., reader programs, and other audio and visual programs). Refer to chapter 3 of this manual for information about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Contact HRTM before moving forward with duplicating and disseminating any CD-ROM product.

Technical Review

All text, data, and CD-ROM production specifications should undergo a technical review to ensure accuracy and policy compliance. Slipcover text and artwork, and "read me" or help text, should be reviewed by HRTM.

Testing and quality control of any CD-ROM product is necessary and important. Before the final press of the CD-ROM, a copy of the CD-ROM should be reviewed and tested by the originating office. This testing should involve:

  • A thorough review of links, graphics, and functionality of the CD-ROM.

  • Proofreading of the text.

  • An operational test to ensure that the CD-ROM operates on all intended platforms (Microsoft Windows® 95, 98, 2000, XP and Windows NT®), that all files are included, and that the product is complete.

In addition, you must work with the Section 508 group, HAIM, and the HAIM Web manager to test and verify Section 508 compliance of any software product.

Policies Affecting CD-ROM Creation

All policies listed in this guide, except for those affecting printing, apply to information posted on CD-ROMs, including the need to edit documents for distribution outside the Agency. Sign-offs will be required verifying the material to be published on the CD-ROM has met GPO Style Manual and FHWA style guidelines, policy guidelines, and is technically accurate.

Consult HRTM before moving forward on your CD-ROM project. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act states that agencies can only create or purchase CD-ROMs that people using assistive technology can access. Section 508 outlines specific requirements for software and information technology.

Style

Actual content style of the CD-ROM will vary based on the authoring program used by the contractor. However, the duplicated CD-ROM should include:

  • An appropriate FHWA publication number and the USDOT/FHWA logo displayed on the cover and label.

  • A complete "readme.txt" and help file that has been proofread and tested. Include installation instructions for the CD-ROM, any additional software needed, and any potential troubleshooting.

  • Include all intended operating system platforms (Microsoft Windows 95, 98, 2000, Windows XP, and Windows NT). Technical details about file size and other information should be included in the installation instructions.

  • Text on the slipcover should include minimum hardware system requirements (i.e., Intel® Pentium® II, with at least 56 MB of random access memory (RAM), color monitor, and Windows 2000). This information in a more detailed format also should be included in the "read me" text file.

  • The "about.txt" file should give a general overview of the purpose and content of the CD-ROM (including the file structure with a listing of files and their contents) as well as any copyright, software, trademark, and patent information. This information also should be included in the "About" section of the help file if the CD-ROM contains software.

Schedule

CD-ROM publishing, like other publishing formats, requires ample time for drafts, revisions, and testing. Because each RD&T office is currently contracting out most CD-ROM duplications, the contractor should be able to provide the best time estimate based on the work, scope, and effort.

Generally, HRTM provides a resource list for duplication services.

Table 7. CD-ROM—what to submit.

CD-ROM Requirements

HRTM Service Request Form

CD-ROM with electronic file(s) including any additional files to make the CD-ROM compliant with Section 508

A "readme.txt" ASCII file with file structure breakdown, information about install shield program for software applications to run or view the media information (i.e., movie or media players, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers, PowerPoint readers, Microsoft Word readers, etc.)

Software that needs to be included to install or view the information (i.e., movie or media players, videos, browsers, Adobe Acrobat Readers, etc.) must be included as executable zipped download files on the Web site and/or the CD-ROM and also must follow the "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.accessboard.gov/sec508/guide/ 1194.21.htm

Notes: Software and database models fall under the "Software Applications and Operating Systems (1194.21)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.21.htm.

Models, model databases, and software applications that also will be accessible through an HTML or other Web interface also must follow the "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm.

Any self-extracting executable program or installation/install shield program must be 508 compliant and follow the software guidelines listed above.

Web Site Publishing

Web site publishing can be used as a primary route of publication, a secondary source of publication, or as a supplemental source of information. The Web provides an electronic medium that offers graphical interface, instantaneous transmission, and multimedia presentation materials. Web site publishing is especially useful for documents containing information that needs to be issued quickly, that may change rapidly, or that is of interest but is seldom used. You also may want to consider Web site publishing if you have a small audience, for example, fewer than 500 readers. If your document fits any of these categories, it may be most appropriate to create an HTML-coded, Web-only document for an FHWA Web site. Again, make sure that your specifications for your electronic publication include Section 508 guidelines.

To avoid duplicate production costs, program offices provide publications for Web site display only. Keep in mind that a high-quality Web design can be just as costly as a printed design. You should expect an electronic HTML file to have a different look and layout from that of a printed document for two reasons:

  1. Duplication of a print design on a Web page will increase file size, which will subsequently increase the number of seconds it takes for a viewer to see your Web page. A Web page design includes a fast and easy way to navigate within a site (or document).

  2. If HTML files are going to be provided, they must follow the requirements in FHWA's WWW Best Practices and Style Guide for Web Site Publishing.(6) In some instances, a communication product will need extensive design for both print and Web media. Consider taking one or two graphic elements from your print document and having your graphic artist apply those elements into a Web page design. This will ensure consistency between the print and electronic publications, and also will help reduce graphic design costs. Make sure to let the designer know from the start that you would like to include a few graphic elements for an electronic CD-ROM or Internet version.

Web projects may face posting delays from the following: number of complex tables, equations, and figures; number of pages; missing 508 captions; COTR final review; and other jobs in the queue at the same time.

Web Site Requirements

The FHWA Chief Information Officer (CIO) must approve new FHWA Web sites, in addition to purchase and use of new Web site domain names (i.e., www.webname.org, www.webname.com, www.webname.gov, etc.), and the Office of Information and Management Services' Information Technology Division (HAIM-40) must approve the final HTML code and design before any Web sites are posted "live."

Note: Contractors and FHWA personnel who will perform HTML coding or will accept a final deliverable comprised of "HTML files" shall ensure that, after editing, all HTML files are coded according to both FHWA requirements and the requirements put forth by the Access Board (see Access Board's "Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology" and FHWA's "Minimum Requirements" for additional information). Contact HRTM-3 or HAIM for an HTML template with standard HTML header and footer codes to use for reports and new Web sites that will be posted on the TFHRC or FHWA Web site.

Minimum Requirements for FHWA Web Pages

Please contact HRTM for specific requirements before creating or preparing material for the TFHRC Web site. Electronic publishing guidelines frequently evolve or change as a result of legislation and the dynamic development of electronic communications technologies. The Office of Public Affairs and HAIM's Web group must review all new materials.

In an effort to achieve greater quality, usability, and consistency, FHWA's Information Technology Division (HAIM-40) has established these minimum technical standards that must be met by all FHWA Web pages. Web documents that do not meet these standards will not be posted:

  1. FHWA Web Pages will be encoded to conform to HTML 4.01 Transitional or higher, as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium.

  2. File names will not exceed 20 characters in length. File names will be lower case, consist solely of letters, numbers and underscores, and will not contain slashes, spaces, tildes, or hyphens. File extensions are to be three characters or less whenever possible (i.e., .htm instead of .html).

  3. All Web pages will have a title in the head section of HTML documents. The title should be unique (to the server), brief, and descriptive, not to exceed 150 characters in length.

  4. Web pages must be free of broken links or missing images. All links to pages within the server will be relative.

  5. Web pages posted on the public Internet will have a standard header and footer. Web pages posted on StaffNet must have a standard footer.

  6. FHWA Web pages will comply with Section 508 Web accessibility standards as established by the Architectural Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

  7. All textual files posted on the FHWA Internet server will be available in HTML format. All other formats (PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) will have HTML equivalents.

  8. The bodies of Web pages will use sans-serif fonts (e.g., Arial or Helvetica).

  9. All non-USDOT external links on Internet Web pages will feature exit doors.

  10. All entry point Web pages on the Internet will feature a privacy policy statement (or a link to the Agency privacy policy statement on the main server).

  11. The OMB, in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, must approve Web pages that collect survey information from the public.

  12. Before posting, the FHWA CIO must approve new FHWA Web sites.

  13. The use of "persistent" cookies on FHWA Web sites is forbidden. "Sessions" cookies are permitted, subject to approval on a case-by-case basis.

HRTM also will assist you with your request and work with you and HAIM to process your Web site request. If a contractor is preparing the material for Web publishing, the COTR must ensure that the contractor has received the most current set of guidelines from HRTM or HAIM before starting the HTML programming phase.

Technical Review

In addition to being edited by HRTM, all material posted on the Web must be reviewed, including a technical (accuracy and policy) review, and the appropriate office director must provide written endorsement to publish/post the material on the TFHRC or FHWA Web site. Each office should establish its own process for reviewing documents for technical soundness, accuracy, and adherence to policy; this process should contain the necessary checks and balances, and coordination with other appropriate offices and individuals, to ensure that FHWA continues to publish high-quality materials. The office director is responsible for all content related to his/her office and functional areas for which he/she is responsible.

Table 8. Web-only communication products—what to submit.

Reports

Other Communication Products

Deliverables for Web-Only Technical Reports/Booklets

X

X

HRTM Service Request Form

X

X

Microsoft Word file of document(s) and printed copy (for editorial purposes)

X

X

Microsoft Word file of 508 captions and printed copy of captions

X

 

Foreword and disclaimer

X

 

Completed Technical Report Documentation Page (Form DOT F 1700.7)

X

 

Metric chart

X

X

Tables, charts, graphs in separate native file formats (Microsoft Excel files for tables and .jpg or .tif files for graphic and CAD files)

X

X

Illustrations, figures, and equations in .jpg or .bmp file formats

X

 

FHWA's HTML coding template with proper headers and footers for reports. Reports must be coded using these HTML headers and footers  

X

X

PDF file of the document after final edit

X

X

Document falls under the "Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22)" under the Access Board's Guide to the Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology in the Technical Standards section. See www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm

 

Chapter 7—Guidelines for Periodicals
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