Amnesty’s Annual Report, a case study in single source publishing

Amnesty International's annual report 2016/2017 launched by Secretary General Salil Shetty
Amnesty International's annual report 2016/2017 launched by Secretary General Salil Shetty(photo: Amnesty International)

Amnesty International recently published the 2016/17 Annual Report on the state of human rights in 160 countries around the world. The Annual Report is not only the most important publication for Amnesty International but also a worldwide reference on the state of human rights. This was the third year in a row where Amnesty International relied on Booktype’s single source publishing technology to produce the report in nine languages - print ready by the click of a button. This project provides a good overview of the advantages of “single source publishing”.

Book creation in one workflow

In the past, Amnesty International’s editorial team including a dispersed team of translators had to send countless emails and attached Microsoft Word® documents back and forth during the production. The layout and final changes were done in Adobe InDesign®. Once the report was published, digital formats were reverse engineered from the final print design, which created unnecessary work and delays.

A publication of this magnitude always provides an editorial challenge with a complex workflow. Bootype’s centralised publishing platform simplifies producing this 400-page document by removing the endless trail of mail attachments. Moving the editorial process into one place where all changes are tracked, where the team communicates via chat and comments and where the final document can be exported for print, web, screen PDF and e-books simultaneously - accelerates the production and makes it less error prone.

Custom workflows to fit the team

Booktype can import Microsoft Word® documents so that authors and translators can continue working with familiar tools. Booktype’s Word import is already very feature rich, even importing comments from Word. For Amnesty International, we decided to add a few customisations to optimise the workflow and reduce unnecessary steps in the process. In this case, it was essential to provide a solution that did not reorganise the existing editorial workflow completely, but would provide a scalable, sustainable improvement based on the existing procedures.  

To enable this, we added additional hooks to the import of Word documents based on the layout of the Amnesty Report. We created a specific Word template that provided paragraph styles for all elements of the layout. Using this template, we developed a Word .docx import with corresponding styles in Booktype, which could be exported to many other applications.

Hybrid publishing from one source

The advantage of using Booktype is not only in its ability to bundle and ingest content, but in the option to output to different publishing formats - including the option to easily develop additional ones, if they are needed in future. Booktype enables editors to review the latest corrections and comments on chapters automatically imported from uploaded Microsoft Word documents, correct text and tag formatting, and export to InDesign, EPUB, PDF proof and website formats with a single click.

A key factor in Amnesty International’s decision to use Booktype was that the software allowed them to  have a ready to publish output with only one click. The standard implementation of Booktype provides PDF and EPUB format for which no design layout or other additional steps are necessary.

The website of Amnesty International's annual report 2016/2017. Booktype also exports to HTML.

The website of Amnesty International's annual report 2016/2017. Booktype also exports to HTML.

Enterprise print PDF from HTML/CSS

Booktype’s enterprise print PDF has all requirements for professional publishing on board. These include - and were used in Amnesty International’s reports:

  • Custom fonts matching the corporate layout, supporting UTF-8
  • Bi-directional text, also mixed (for example English and Arabic) within the same document, e.g. footnotes
  • Widow and orphan control
  • Multi-column layout, mixed into single column layout throughout the document
  • Custom divider pages with graphical elements

It was a pleasure to be in contact with all the people at Amnesty International and draw inspiration from the unique spirit of the organisation. We are proud to have helped produce such a comprehensive and important publication in multiple languages with the input of so many people.