Boston Broadside
November/December 2002
Vol. 60,  No. 2
 Newsletter of the Boston Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication


Copyright © STC Boston 2002

Program Report

Single Sourcing

By Ilana Sztaimberg

  Taryn greets the crowd.
  Taryn greets the crowd.
  Photo by Ilana Sztaimberg

On Wednesday September 25, Boston Chapter President Taryn Light welcomed almost 80 STC members and guests, including some from as far away as England and Italy, to the Boston Chapter's first program of the year. The group gathered at the Lexington Sheraton to listen to "Tool Guy" Chuck Vermette's presentation on Single Sourcing.

Chuck's presentation was both amusing and informative. He explained the concept and practices behind Single Sourcing by sharing his personal work experiences. Laughter was frequently heard, and one attendee commented that he enjoyed the speaker's anecdotes and humor.

Chuck Vermette  
Chuck Vermette  
Photo by Ilana Sztaimberg  

Chuck geared his presentation toward small to midsize companies or lone writers who are looking to increase their output, quality, and turnaround. According to Chuck, the mechanics of Single Sourcing are not the problem. Creating quality content is the most important thing. Content should be functional, then fun, then fancy. If your original content is not valuable, then converting it to other formats is not going to be any more helpful to your audience. "If you can't cut a steak with a butter knife, you can't cut it with ten butter knives," Chuck joked.

For Single Sourcing to work, the process must be sustainable and repeatable, your template must be solid, and your team must be on-board. Chuck explained the difference between Single Sourcing and Repositioning.

  • Single Sourcing content is contained in one document and converted to other formats in a one-click solution.
  • Repositioning content is imported and then converted to two separate workflows

  Nicole Cerimeli of nSight and William S. Ingalls a Technical Communications Consultant take a moment after the presentation to talk.
  Nicole Cerimeli of nSight and William S. Ingalls, a Technical Communications Consultant, take a moment after the presentation to talk.
  Photo by Ilana Sztaimberg

A comment was made that Chuck's presentation provided one attendee with information about something she hadn't done before. Chuck stressed that Single Sourcing, the idea of writing once and publishing in multiple formats, can be in your reach using the newest tools of the trade. Interested in Single Sourcing? Chuck assured both FrameMaker and Word users that Single Sourcing is easier than they think. Some available tools are:

  • For FrameMaker Environments
    • WebWorks Publisher
    • Mif2Go
  • For Word Environments
    • WebWorks Publisher WordHelp
    • DoctoHelp
  • AuthorIT
    • Built in WP/layout import Frame and Word Files AuthorIT.

The Event, sponsored by nSight, gave the audience a chance to learn about Single Sourcing and a chance to mingle with other technical communicators. Closing comments showed that those in attendance were all-around pleased with the program. Several people said: "Convenient location, Great topic, Excellent speaker."

Ilana Sztaimberg, a graduate of Bentley College, is currently working as a Technical Writer at Accusonic Technologies in Falmouth, Massachusetts. She can be reached at .

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