Image: HTML article typeset by Scholastica

Typesetting has long been one of the most arduous parts of publishing academic journals. After copyediting accepted manuscripts, many journals follow a typesetting workflow for each article, either internally or via freelance typesetters, that looks something like this:

  1. Typeset article (usually from Word doc) into PDF using a desktop publishing system such as InDesign
  2. Code article into HTML for the journal’s website — or skip HTML because it’s an extra step and requires additional resources
  3. Convert article into partial or full-text XML for scholarly indexes — depending on if they have the necessary technical resources

Alternatively, some journal publishers start out typesetting articles in XML and then create PDFs from there (and HTML articles if they’re able to). While this scenario is an improvement, because articles are formatted in the XML needed for indexing, it still has some downsides. First, many editors and authors find XML code challenging to work within. When errors crop up, editors and authors may miss them or find them difficult to fix. In this scenario, the PDF is also usually edited separately from the XML file, which can make it easy for the two files to get out of sync.

In production processes like the ones described above, the costs of time and resources involved in typesetting can really add up. And publishers that skip publishing in HTML or XML, due to resource constraints, miss out on opportunities to make their articles more discoverable via online browsers and indexes.

At Scholastica, we saw an opportunity to use technology to make the typesetting process a lot faster and easier, so journals can get all of the file types they need without hassle. We’ve developed a typesetting process that uses advanced software to generate HTML, PDF, and XML articles all at once. And we offer full typesetting service, managing journals’ entire typesetting process from the time they send us their copyedited manuscripts. So publishers don’t have to worry about coordinating proof review. Journals can use Scholastica’s typesetting service on its own or in conjunction with our other products.

How does Scholastica’s typesetting service work? Let’s go behind the scenes:

We generate all the digital article formats you need from one manuscript file

Example of an HTML and PDF article typeset by Scholastica

Today, most journals have an online presence, but many are struggling to produce articles in digitally optimized formats. As noted above, many journals use the PDF as their canonical article file, and it’s seriously hindering their online discovery and usage potential. While PDFs are useful for downloading and printing articles, they aren’t conducive to digital search or reading. PDFs are often difficult for online search engines and indexes to parse because they interpret content in computer-based formats. And PDFs are cumbersome for online readers as compared to HTML webpages because they aren’t mobile-friendly.

Have you ever tried reading a PDF on your phone? It’s generally not an enjoyable experience.

In virtually every other type of online publication, HTML has become the canonical article format, yet somehow journals remain stuck with PDFs circa 1990. Frankly, we think this is backward. That’s why we designed a typesetting process to quickly and affordably produce PDF, and HTML and XML article files, from a single DOCX or LaTex manuscript file using advanced software. So journals can get the benefits of each article format without worrying about technical file creation or conversion hassles.

What differentiates Scholastica’s typesetting process from others is that, because we use technology to generate PDF, HTML, and XML files at the same time, the different file types are always in sync. Any updates made to an article are automatically reflected in all of its file versions in real-time. What this means for a journal is that they get all the article formats they need in less time, without having to wrestle with different files or systems.

Easy typesetting requests and beautiful results

Sending articles to Scholastica for typesetting is easy. Once a journal has a Scholastica account, all they have to do to submit articles for typesetting is log into Scholastica, navigate to the typesetting request page, and upload their copyedited DOCX or LaTex manuscript files and any tables or figures. After that, the journal’s work is done! Scholastica’s typesetting team will use advanced technology to convert the manuscripts into beautiful HTML and PDF articles, as well as full-text XML files. XML files come formatted in the Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) standard, ready to be submitted to major scholarly discovery services.

Since Scholastica uses technology to typeset articles, we’re able to ensure beautiful PDF and HTML article outputs with greater accuracy than manual typesetters. For example, a typesetting challenge that we know many journals face is getting data tables to look right in different file formats. In manual typesetting, data tables are usually prepared in a design file and then inserted into articles as images. These images can sometimes break page formatting, or appear squished if they have to be resized to fit on a page. Using Scholastica’s typesetting service, journals don’t have to worry about any of this because we use machine-readable tabular data to generate tables within articles. Our software is able to prepare tables to perfectly fit article pages, so they always look clean and professional.

Articles are optimized for human and machine readers

Google Scholar links in articles for improved discoverability

Using Scholastica’s typesetting service, journals can be sure that their articles will be optimized for online readers and web-based search engines, including Google Scholar. Scholastica produces responsive HTML articles that are easy to read from any mobile device. HTML articles are optimized for online search engines with metatags tags that provide descriptive metadata to search engines in machine-readable format.

Scholastica also enhances the online discoverability of HTML articles by linking each work cited in the article’s references section to its Google Scholar listing (where applicable). This helps search engines understand the kinds of content the journal article relates to and makes it more likely for that article to show up in relevant search queries. You can learn more about this feature here.

Scholastica’s typesetting service also provides journals with the rich machine-readable XML metadata they need for deposit-based abstracting and indexing databases (A&Is), like Web of Science, as well as digital archives such as Portico. All XML article files have core metadata including:

  • Cited references
  • Complete funding information
  • Copyright license information
  • Persistent identifiers (e.g. ORCID, DOI)

Scholastica also takes care of checking and normalizing citations for journals saving publishers the step.

In addition to creating machine-readable metadata for all articles, Scholastica formats the full-text of all articles into structured JATS compliant XML. For journals and their readers, this means greater article discovery and usage potential. Full-text XML articles can be used for text and data mining, wherein online scripts or machine-learning tools are used to analyze article information for purposes such as language or data analysis. For example, a scholar might employ text and data mining to analyze related data sets within different articles.

Scholastica handles proof review working directly with authors

Scholastica Discussions

Once a journal’s articles have been typeset, it’s time for proof review! Scholastica manages the entire proofing process for journals. We send authors a link to their unpublished HTML article, which also includes a link to access the PDF version of the article, so authors have the opportunity to view both versions and can choose which format they’d rather review. As noted above, authors only have to proof one article file because any updates made to the article will automatically apply to all file types.

Authors are given a chance to proof their article and can submit any questions or update requests to Scholastica right within the Scholastica platform, via Discussion messages. Journal publishers and editors can see Discussion messages and will receive updates about them, so they always know where manuscripts are in the typesetting process. Scholastica then applies any necessary changes to the article so it’s ready for publication.

Scholastica sends journals final articles ready to be published

Once proof review is complete, Scholastica sends all final article files to the journal. From there, the journal can download article files to publish on its external website. Or, journals that use Scholastica’s open access publishing platform, can publish articles to their Scholastica website from their publishing dashboard in a few clicks.

That’s it! Typesetting complete! We hope you enjoyed this look behind the scenes.

Want to learn more about Scholastica’s typesetting service? Visit our website or click here to request a demo!

Update note: This post was originally published on June 7, 2018 and updated with new feature information on November 19, 2019.