Report Format Style & Guidance

Most common report formatting issues that authors of new reports inquire about are below. Working examples and additional information concerning most of these topics are also provided in our downloadable document templates.

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Manuscript Format & Style Guides/Manuals

NRPM Document Templates

Provide working examples of the format and layout requirements, and suggestions for most common report elements, as outlined in the Instructions to Authors manual below. Templates are available in MS Word and the more polished Adobe InDesign platforms.

A vast majority of authors and editors only need to use the document templates to generate new reports.

Why Use One of Our Document Templates?

  • They are fully supported by the NRPM support team (format and layout issues, software bugs, etc.).
  • The working format and layout examples, and related guidance, built into the templates can save you a lot of time and effort. How? The templates:
    • Use techniques that are proven, relatively stable, and easy to manage.
    • Help you avoid many of the common software bugs that we see (mostly concerning MS Word and related export from MS Word to Adobe Acrobat).
    • Help you avoid wasting time repeatedly reformatting elements that are regularly re-set to the software default settings during the writing and editing process.
  • Always contain the most current official NPS graphic identity and NPS/DOI publication policy language.
  • We only provide limited support for reports that significantly deviate from our template standards (use different fonts, layout schemes, etc.).

Instructions to Authors Version 3.1

Is currently under revision. Please refer to the document templates for up-to-date information.

The Instructions to Authors manual was written as a comprehensive format and layout manual for publishing in the NRTR, NRR, and NRDS report series (MS Word 2003, Adobe InDesign CS3, and with 2010 NPS publication standards).

The manual was written as a detailed reference for professional editors, printing offices, and NPS publication policy experts. Most of this information is now incorporated into the current report templates.

Which Report Template Format (MS Word or Adobe InDesign)?

MS Word templates are suggested whenever:

  • For reports that will primarily be distributed to the public digitally (online, email, etc.).
  • Whenever the authors and/or editors of the final report are not NPS employees.

Note: since 2010, over 90% of all published reports were generated using MS Word.

Adobe InDesign templates are suggested for:

  • Reports with a significant print distribution to the public (typically when more than 50 printed copies will be distributed outside the NPS).
  • Reports that include more complicated and/or sophisticated layout elements (two-column text layouts, text wrapping around numerous graphics and/or tables, etc.)
  • NPS employees that are:
    • Familiar with using Adobe InDesign.
    • The final layout editor for more than 10-15 NRTR, NRR, and/or NRDS reports each year (software is much more stable, and after the first few reports, takes no more time than generating reports using MS Word).

Note: since 2010, less than 10% of all published reports were generated using Adobe InDesign.

More detailed information about our MS Word and Adobe InDesign templates is below.

About Our MS Word Templates (overview, advantages, and disadvantages)

Since 2010, over 90% of all published NRTR, NRR, and NRDS reports were generated using MS Word. Even high-profile efforts, like reports to Congress, are usually generated using MS Word.

MS Word templates are advised whenever the final editor of the report will not be a NPS employee that is also a publication specialist that is familiar with using Adobe InDesign, and the final report will be read primarily via computer screen.

Basic layout parameters, advantages, and disadvantages of our MS Word templates.

Basic Layout Parameters
  • Single-column layout.
  • Only use Times New Roman and Arial fonts.
  • Working examples and guidance are provided for most report elements that we see (layout schemes, fonts and text, tables, figures, tables of contents, etc.).
Advantages
  • No special software or fonts are required. This is especially useful for contributors that do not work for the NPS.
  • If you use one of our templates, software and layout support are always available through the NRPM support team.
Disadvantages
  • Provisionally and minimally meet NPS publication and graphic identity policy standards (do not use proprietary NPS fonts, and the format and layout is much simpler than what is suggested by the Harpers Ferry Center Graphic Identity office).

Important - most of the other disadvantages outlined below can be avoided if you use the latest versions of our MS Word document templates, and follow the basic format and layout techniques and guidelines built into them.

  • There are a relatively large number of MS Word software bugs. These bugs are more pronounced when report content is created and/or edited in different versions of MS Office.
    • We strongly suggest that all final-stage editors and contributors use MS Office 2010-2013.
    • Again, the examples and techniques provided in the latest versions of our MS Word templates avoid many of these bugs.
  • NPS Rawlinson and Adobe Frutiger fonts are not recommended with MS Word files. Why?
    • If any of the authors and/or editors do not have these fonts loaded onto their local computer systems, much of the text that was set to the "missing" fonts will automatically revert to the default fonts on that computer (usually the MS Office 2007-2013 default fonts, Cambria and Calibri, which are not allowed in NRPM reports).
    • NPS Rawlinson and Adobe Frutiger fonts sometimes do not export correctly from MS Word to Adobe Acrobat format (common following software updates - usually fixed by Microsoft and/or Adobe over the next two to four weeks).
  • MS Word files can become unstable, and/or will export incorrectly to Adobe Acrobat format when they:
    • Are too large (somewhere over 300 pages or 250 mb).
    • Have multiple complicated layout elements (multiple text columns, text wrapping around figures or tables, etc.).
      • Note - we strongly suggest that you use Adobe InDesign for more complicated layout schemes.
    • Contain more than a few tables and/or figures that are still housed in external files (MS Excel, SigmaPlot, etc.)
    • Have more than five or six table of contents-type-objects in the same report.
    • Contain multiple tables, images, or text boxes that are wider than the existing page margins (especially for tables that span multiple pages).
    • Have deprecated MS Office 95-2003-era format and layout techniques in documents that will be edited or viewed in MS Office 2007-2013 (manual bookmark-driven tables of contents, older third-party reference and captioning tools, etc.).

About Our Adobe InDesign Templates (overview, advantages, and disadvantages)

Since 2010, less than 10% of all NRTR, NRR, and NRDS reports have been published using Adobe InDesign.

This file format is suggested whenever the final editor of the report will be a NPS employee that is a publication specialist and also familiar with using Adobe InDesign, the final report will have a large or significant print distribution (more than 50 copies printed, and/or printed copies will distributed outside the NPS, etc.), and the final report includes multiple advanced format and layout elements (multiple text columns, text wrapping around figures and tables, etc.).

Overview of our Adobe InDesign Templates

Basic Layout Parameters
  • Two-column layout.
  • Only use NPS Rawlinson and Adobe Frutiger Fonts.
  • Working examples and guidance for most report elements (tables, figures, lists of contents, etc.).
Advantages
  • Fully meet NPS publication and graphic identity policy standards.
  • Documents tend to be much more stable and reliable than ones generated using MS Word.
  • Much better at handling more complicated layout schemes (multiple columns, text wrapping around figures and tables, etc.).
  • Report elements almost always export correctly to Adobe Acrobat.
  • If you use one of our templates, software and layout support are always available through the NRPM support team.
Disadvantages
  • Our InDesign templates were designed for internal NPS use only, and are not recommended whenever the final authors and/or editors do not work for the NPS.
  • You must purchase a separate software license for each computer that has Adobe InDesign, and installation often requires IT support on NPS computers.
  • Before you open and/or use the Adobe InDesign templates, you will need to install the proprietary NPS Rawlinson (NPS only) and Adobe Frutiger (NPS only) fonts onto your computer. There are special copyright agreement rules (NPS only) for supplying these fonts to external partners and/or contractors.
  • There is a relatively steep learning curve, and we suggest that NPS offices that use our Adobe InDesign templates have at least one person that is minimally proficient with the software inside their own office.
    • However, after the first three to four reports, most final report editors find that generating reports in Adobe InDesign takes about the same amount of time as generating them in MS Word. Why?
      • Adobe InDesign documents are much more stable and fluid, and you spend much less time dealing with things like software bugs, dynamic elements reverting to the software default settings, etc.
      • With a single final editor, less time is spent dealing with consistency and duplication of effort issues (common issues with MS Word reports housed on a community network drive).
Pagination Rules for Major Chapters (first order headings)
  • If the previous chapter occupied one or more pages, the first order heading for the next major chapter should always begin at the top of a new page.
    • For reports designed primarily to be viewed via computer display, the next new chapter may begin at the top of any new page.
    • For reports that are designed specifically for print, the next new chapter should always begin at the top of a new, right-hand, and odd-numbered page.
      • Procedural documents such as Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should always follow this rule.
      • This rule assures that:
        • New major chapters always face the reader when leafing through a paper copy of the report.
        • It is easier to manually separate printed chapters, appendices, SOPs, etc. (new chapters, appendices, and/or SOPs always begin on a new piece of paper).
      • To make this happen, you will sometimes need to add a page between the previous chapter and the next one. You have two options with the added pages.
        • Adding a completely blank page before the new first order heading. Blank pages should be completely blank, and you need to delete all page headers, footers, page numbers, etc.
        • Adding filler to the extra page, such photographs, figures, tables etc. You do not need to delete things like page headers or footers from "filler" pages.
  • You may have multiple first order headings on the same page of any report, as long as the first one begins at the top of a new page.
  • Working examples and guidance for doing this are built into our MS Word and Adobe InDesign templates.
Page Number Position on Landscape Oriented Pages

Page numbers on landscape oriented pages should be on the short page margin, matching the physical location of all other page numbers displayed throughout the report. Working examples and guidance for doing this are built into our MS Word and Adobe InDesign templates.

Page Numbering Schemes for Appendices (or Appendixes) & Standard Operating Procedures

Page numbers for appendices should remain in the same margin locations as with the rest of the report. It is often easier to just continue numbering your pages with the rest of the report, but you can use an alternative page numbering convention if you wish.

Custom page numbering schemes are especially useful for appendices and SOPs that are designed to be printed and used as stand-alone documents (e.g., A.1 through A.10, SOP1-1 through SOP1-13, etc.). We do recommend that you remain consistent when numbering pages across all appendices and SOPs in a report.

Working examples of appendices and SOPs with custom page numbering schemes can be seen in our MS Word and Adobe InDesign document templates.

Editing Rules for Previously Published Reports (report versioning rules)

Edits to published NRTR, NRR, and NRDS reports are restricted, and especially after reports have been made available to the public in any way (e.g., physical copies sent, digital copies distributed by email, report posted for download on any public-facing website,including the IRMA Data Store).

Why?

  • These are generally-accepted publication standards that are used by private and government publishing entities.
  • Once a publication has been made available, it may be used as a basis for any number of decisions or actions. If decisions or actions are questioned, access to the original document, verbatim, is necessary. Modifying a publicly-released document without modifying the associated unique identification of the document (e.g., title, date, series number), can expose NPS to legal challenge.

If at all possible, we suggest that authors accept mistakes in layout or presentation. However, if errors are egregious or allow misinterpretation of a report's data or conclusions, see the sub-panels below for more information on how to proceed.

Editing Simple Typos and Graphic Export Errors in Previously Published Reports

After you have released a published report to the public in any way (see above), simple typos and graphic export errors are the only items that can be changed or updated in that report.

  • Basic rules for typos:
    • Only edit or update individual words in the report (spelling errors, removing duplicate words, etc.).
    • Does not include typos associated with numeric values or calculation errors.
    • Updates cannot change the line, paragraph, or page number for any sentence, figure, table, or graphic in the report.
  • Basic rules for replacing "broken" graphics in the final PDF.
    • Only replace images that were obviously exported incorrectly to PDF format (blurry, scrambled, blank, etc.).
    • Use as close a version to the original graphic as is possible.
      • Do not make design changes to the original graphic (dimensions, fonts, etc.).
      • Do not change any numeric values presented in the original graphic.
      • Updates cannot change the line, paragraph, or page number for any sentence, figure, table, or graphic in the report.
All Other Edits & Updates in Previously Published Reports

After a report in this series has been released to the public in any way (see above); any edits that add, subtract, or replace any report content (individual words, sentences, figures, numeric values, pages, etc.); leave you with two basic options:

  1. Publish a separate addendum or errata document. If you choose this option, you must:
    1. Ensure the addendum or errata document includes just the content that deviates from the original document, and reference the title of the report and the section to which it applies.
    2. Attach the addendum or errata to the original report. There are two options to accomplish this.
      1. Insert the addendum or errata at the beginning of the existing PDF version of the report (the page immediately following the inside title page).
      2. Combine the addendum or errata and the original PDF version into an individual zip file. Ensure that the addendum or errata PDF is clearly named as such.
    3. Inactivate the original PDF holding in the IRMA Data Store.
    4. Upload and activate the new holding in the IRMA Data Store
    5. Contact the publication series manager (Fagan Johnson) and let him know of the change so that associated links and websites can be updated.
    • OR
  2. Publish a new version of the report, with a new and distinct NRTR/NRR/NRDS report number, TIC number, and IRMA Data Store record ID.
    1. Add a report subtitle to clearly differentiate it from the original report (e.g., Revised March, 2013.)
    2. Ensure the Peer Review Manager approves the changes. This should be just a quick review of the original peer review process and approval of the changes.
    3. Complete a new Manuscript Submittal Form and Checklist that denotes the changes from the original, marks the approval of the Peer Review Manager, etc.
    4. The newer version of the report will be held to the current NPS publication policy standards (graphic identity, official disclaimer language wording, etc.).
    5. Use the IRMA Data Store versioning tool to ensure the new report is properly entered as a new version of the older report. This will redirect users from the old reference to the newer and preferred one
Last Updated: May 19, 2014 Contact Webmaster