Some document templates need a quick freshen-up before they're ready to be automated on Josef. Perhaps certain tables feature clunky formatting or numbered lists need reorganizing.
In any case, if you don't review and prepare your document's formatting before uploading your document to Josef, you may face issues later down the line.
Here are some top tips to ensure your document automation runs as smoothly (and as quickly) as possible.
[Image: Example document in the Josef Word editor featuring (top to bottom) block rules, variables, row rules, and looping.]
1. Know your document's formatting
First up, if you’re automating a document, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with how the underlying template is formatted. The rest of these tips all rely on your knowledge of how the various parts of the document work together.
2. Keep tables simple
Complex tables require complex bot logic. To save yourself time and create a simpler build experience, avoid including the following in your document:
- merged cells (i.e., each cell should only span one column and one row); and
- tables within tables.
3. Keep lists tidy
Lists that look okay at first glance may feature manually entered components or be separate lists sitting next to one another.
To ensure your lists generate as expected when automated, review them in Microsoft Word and look specifically for consistent and uniform use of Word’s list capabilities.
4. Be loop savvy
Before you use Josef's looping features, ensure any affected table rows and lists are formatted correctly. Here's some general guidance:
- Table rows
- In Microsoft Word, remove all rows except the header row and a single row containing the variables that will be looped;
- Use consistent cell border lines between rows and columns. This will ensure looped rows are formatted as expected; and
- Be intentional with any text formatting (e.g., sizing, bolding, etc.) within the cell/row containing variables. Why? This will apply to all looped rows generated.
- Looped lists
- In Microsoft Word, remove all list items except for a single list point containing the variables that'll be looped (i.e., a bullet point or number);
- Format your list so that all necessary variables appear on one list “level”;
- Example: 1, 2, 3. Not 1, (a), 2.
- If your list contains varying formatting (e.g., sizing, bolding, etc.), include examples of each format type in the initial looped list item. We recommend doing this even if all the various formats won't necessarily appear in every list item.
5. Finalise formatting pre-upload
We highly recommend finalising your document’s formatting and styling before you upload it to your bot.
With the formatting complete, you can then move on to automating on Josef and decrease the likelihood of having to do things twice.
1. Know your rules
Not all document rules are the same, and only one rule type (i.e., block or text) can be applied to a given section of text at once.
Here’s a quick refresher:
- Text rules apply to selected passages/lines of text only.
- Block rules apply to text, plus any formatting to the side such as bullet or numbered points.
- Row rules apply to entire table rows.
Hint: Since multiple rules cannot be applied to the same passage of text, consider duplicating blocks and creating variations of the same clause, for example. Next, apply the relevant rule to each variation to ensure the right clause displays according to the relevant user response.
2. Export your automated document to edit
Even the best-prepared documents may need a tweak or two during automation.
If you start automating your document and need to make edits, consider using Josef's export & re-upload (beta) feature. This allows you to:
- Export your document,
- Make edits in Microsoft Word, then
- Re-upload the updated document without losing any automation.
Exporting your document will also be necessary if you would like to edit unsupported content, i.e. cross-references, special fields (e.g. tables of contents) and hyperlinks. Such content is currently uneditable in Josef.
1. Automate one document at a time
Creating digital tools is a learning process. Therefore, start small and learn by automating one thing at a time. That way, you can take all your lessons with you with each document you automate and bot you build.
2. Update your bot
Have you already launched your bot and made updates to your bot or document? Update your bot to ensure any edits are pushed through to the live version.
3. Give yourself time
You’re automating a document that’s going to save you time in the future. Therefore, give yourself enough lead time to ensure you get it right!
You may need to get creative to ensure your document works for you, so the more time you allow yourself, the better.
Got a question? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.