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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-058    Date:  February 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-058
Date: February 2017


Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center R&D Communication Reference Guide



This chapter offers an overview of the services provided by HRTM’s Innovation Management and Communication Team. The applicable laws, rules, and FHWA policies are in accordance with 44 U.S. Code § 501.(5)


HRTM guides, oversees, manages, and produces a variety of communication materials to disseminate RD&T information to a wide range of audiences composed of transportation industry professionals, legislators, scientists, association members, educators, corporate customers, and the public. This effort is supported with the assistance of contract editors, writers, photographers, Web programmers, and others. When developing your communication material, the following are a few important points to keep in mind.

Identify Your Audience

When writing, consider your audience and take time to think about who will read what you’re writing.

Define Your Message

A message is a communication or statement conveyed from one person or group to another. Determine what you want the reader to learn from your publication. Be sure to provide important details that support the central message within the publication.

Communication products must provide information clearly, concisely, and consistently in design, style, grammar, spelling, composition, and format. This is important because 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.

Consider Effective Ways to Reach Your Audience

After identifying your audience(s) and defining your message(s), you must then determine the most effective way of reaching your audience. Consider the following questions:


There are many steps to the publication process. However, to give you a sense of the steps and associated development timelines, the snapshot of the publication work schedule is provided for your consideration.

Steps Work/Review Iterations Deliverables Length Responsible
1 Concept Review Form 1113, HRTM Service Request form 15 working days FHWA researcher, HRTM liaison, Office of Public Affairs (HPA)
2 Initial Edit Edited report, editorial comments, 508 captions, permissions for figures 10 working days Editor
3 FHWA Researcher Review FHWA researcher responses 10 working days FHWA researcher
4 Final Editing and Final Layout Version Draft deliverable in final form/layout 10 working days Editor
5 Review the Draft Final Delivery FHWA researcher responses 30 calendar days FHWA researcher
6 Address FHWA Researcher Comments Final Adobe® Acrobat portable document format (PDF) file 5 working days Editor
7 Final Review and Approval Acceptance or nonacceptance 10 working days FHWA researcher
8 FHWA Final Review and Approval Acceptance or nonacceptance. 20 working days HPA
9 Final Package Preparation and Delivery Final deliverable of publication files 5 working days Editor
10 Printing Final publication is printed. 14 to 42 working days HRTM-20
11 Distribution Final publication is distributed. 7 to 14 working days HRTM-20
12 Web Files Final publication is uploaded to the web. 5 working days for PDF. 7-14 days for HTML. HRTM-20

The formal process to develop and publish a document includes submitting a few forms to HRTM for processing. HPA must complete an initial review of the information you will be conveying before the publishing process begins. See chapter 8 and appendixes S and T for more information. Details regarding each form are as follows, and the forms are available on the FHWA internal research Microsoft® SharePoint site:(7)


Once the report is written, it will be formally edited by FHWA’s editors. The complete time to develop a publication is about 3 to 4 months when the defined timelines are not changed. Layout and design needs may require additional steps, depending on approvals, which may add time and expense to jobs. For this reason, researchers are encouraged to discuss their concerns about the publication job and possible layout and design issues prior to approving the job and cost estimate after submission. The following estimated times should be used as a broad guideline for final HRTM communication product editorial process, quality assurance, and delivery:

  1. HPA Initial Review (1 to 3 weeks): The researcher will provide the FHWA Form 1113 to HRTM for submittal to HPA, which will lead to the following:
    • HRTM will inform the researcher of the results of the initial HPA review.

    The researcher will submit a completed Service Request Form (i.e., Intake Form) to HRTM indicating all of the submission requirements (e.g., permissions and copyrights) have been met to obtain a cost estimate for preparing the publication. This submission will lead to the following:

    • Upon receipt of information from the contractor, HRTM will provide the researcher with two cost estimates: (1) estimated cost if the document has been developed in accordance to the CRG, and (2) estimated cost if any requirements to develop the document have not been fulfilled (e.g., lack of 508 captions and permissions).

    • Upon approval of the cost estimate by the researcher, HRTM will notify the contract editor to proceed with working on the document. Note: At this stage, the timeline for which the contractor is held liable to maintain the delivery schedule begins. Any deviations from the timeline may delay the final deliverable date.

  2. Initial Edit (10 working days): The Microsoft® Word file containing the publication is edited and formatted in compliance with CRG and the GPO Style Manual.(2)

  3. FHWA Researcher Review (10 working days): The author reviews the editor’s changes and responds to outstanding questions and action items.

  4. Final Editing and Final Layout Version (10 working days): The editor incorporates the researcher’s responses and changes into the file, and the designer creates an Adobe® Acrobat PDF of the publication layout.

  5. FHWA Researcher Reviews the Draft Final Delivery (30 calendar days): The author reviews the editor’s changes and responds to outstanding questions and action items.

  6. Editor Addresses FHWA Researcher Comments (5 working days): The editor incorporates the author’s responses and changes into the file and creates the final PDF for approval.

  7. FHWA Researcher Final Review and Approval (10 working days): The author reviews the final PDF and either sends further changes to the editor or approves the publication for publishing.

  8. HPA Final Review (20 working days): Upon receipt of the author’s final approval, HRTM sends the final document and the FHWA Form 1528 for review to HPA. Completion date of review is subject to change due to conflicting demands within HPA.

  9. Final Package Preparation and Delivery (5 working days): The editor assembles the publication files and sends them to FHWA after any changes indicated by HPA are made.

  10. Printing (14 to 42 days depending on job).

  11. Distribution (7 to 14 days).

  12. Web files (5 working days for PDF, and 14–28 days for the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) version of the publication.

All communication products are edited electronically (i.e., using Track Changes in Microsoft® Word) for consistency and adherence to acceptable style, punctuation, and grammar. Edits normally will include checking sections for basic errors, grammar, and adherence to the selected writing style. The process also includes analyzing formatting, providing suggested changes to text for readability, and checking for organizational problems within the document (e.g., removing or indicating repetitive information; ensuring parallelism in bulleted and numbered lists, headings, and text).

Responsibility for Corrections

The editor will provide a summary edit sheet that describes the edits in the document. The researcher is responsible for reviewing all editorial changes and answering queries as requested by the editor within the expressed timeline. In the case of reports, the researcher who submitted the report or the office’s contractor is responsible for reviewing all electronic edits and incorporating all changes into the document.

This review time should be built into a research contract.

Expediting the Editing Process

The speed of the publication process relies on how quickly researchers, contract office representatives, and their contractors make the corrections indicated by the editor and return the communication product to HRTM.Planning a project from the start with Section 508 in mind will save money and time in the long run.

The researcher can save time and money by doing the following:

See chapter 4, Section 508, and Publication Content for more information.

Printing the Publication

Upon completion of the publication job, it can be printed and posted on the FHWA website.(1)

GPO is the Federal Government’s official, digital, secure resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government. Every publication of the executive department, independent office, and establishment of the Government, including FHWA, shall be printed at GPO.(5)

Errata Process (i.e., Errors in Printing or Online)

Errata are short and minor revisions to a printed or published document to correct mistakes such as factual, spelling, or typographic corrections. After a research document is printed or published (i.e., defined as released to the public) on a website and typographical or technical errors are found, an errata notification is to be created to notify readers of the need for corrections in the document. Errata are posted on the FHWA website and sent to a print distribution. The errata contain information that informs readers of the changes needed and are posted to the FHWA research website.

HRTM will ask the researcher or author to provide a completed errata template, including information such as the name of the report, report number, page numbers where errors appear, the errors, and the corrections. Those changes should be incorporated in the electronic document. See appendix Q for the Errata Form Template.




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