This animation shows the auto-generated tables from InDesign based on the data files.

This animation shows the auto-generated tables from InDesign based on the data files.

Guide to Eating Ontario Fish – automating Excel files with InDesign publishing saved the Ministry weeks in proofreading time and money. Contact us for a consultation.

Every two years the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change publish a new edition of the Guide to Eating Ontario Fish. This guide has 2,300+ tables of fish consumption advisory tables organized by water body and species of fish. Updating the tables was a laborious manual process requiring extensive proofing by the Ministry staff. 

Ledden Design iT automated the production of the advisory tables directly from the fish advisory data file to the Indesign files. Updating a subset of the tables previously took 6 to 8 weeks, now takes 4 to 6 hours with all the tables generated from the fish advisory data file. Since the tables are generated directly from data, any transcription errors can be traced back to the source data.

We completely revised the design and layout from a flip-book format to a larger 8.5” x 11” bilingual book, with the English text on the left side and French on the right side of the page. We enhanced the text design for the tables, choosing the typeface Myriad Pro-Condensed, which has a larger x-height for better legibility in the limited space provided.

For the 236-page guide, we illustrated maps and created side tabs that separate it into six locations: Ontario Interior Lakes, the four Great Lakes (Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior) and the St. Lawrence River.

We created simple pie charts, illustrated graphics and designed key charts to aid in the understanding of consumption restrictions. We made use of the InDesign table, cell and paragraph styles to ensure consistent table content formatting. We made extensive use of the InDesign book feature to separate the sections into different InDesign files. This allowed us to distribute the work amongst our team effectively and ensure the guide was completed on time and on budget.

We created a user guide and tool for future guide updates, that has saved the research scientists a lot of time and ensures the communication documents are more accurate. This project required a blend of design and software development skills. Scroll through the samples to see the animation of the actual auto-generated data tables filling out the InDesign pages.

“This is the fourth edition I’ve worked on and it was the fastest turn around – includes a complete redesign, by far the smoothest production and proofreading process I’ve experienced, and huge savings of time, money and sanity. The end result is a much easier to read and more accessible Guide.”

Client testimonial: Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Communications Branch