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Effective: 7/1/1992

Revised: 9/6/1996

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[ASU logo] CAM 202–02: Organization of a Manual Project


To suggest methods of organizing a manual project

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Academic and Administrative Documents

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After a new manual’s focus has been established and its anticipated contents have been organized in the most useful way, the project itself must be organized so that the manual can be published by the target date.

Organizing a new manual project is mainly a matter of creating schedules that may change as the project unfolds. Some flexibility in scheduling is a must, because manuals almost always take longer to produce than the committee or responsible administrator originally envisions.

Schedules should be created for writing, editing, reviewing, and producing manuals.


Although it is impossible to generalize about how long it will take to develop a manual, it is safe to say that the writing schedule will cover many more weeks than the other schedules. The committee might want to set a time span of, say, four months for the writing, knowing that the time may have to be extended. The committee could schedule regular meetings every week or two to review what has been written and to decide on both changes in text and improvements in the manual development process.

Committee members do not have to do all the writing themselves. They may play a coordinating role, enlisting others to write procedures and policies in their areas of expertise.

During the writing phase of the project, writers of individual policies and procedures are performing some editing on their own material.



If the manual is an internal one, editing may be completed efficiently in two cycles. In the first cycle, all members of the committee read all drafts and offer editorial suggestions. In the second cycle, the designated editor creates a review draft, editing for consistency, style, and format.

The time needed to complete the editing process varies with the length of the manual and the availability of the committee members and editor. For an average internal manual, four weeks might be needed, two for each cycle.


If the manual is an external one (an ASU administrative manual), editing often comprises three cycles. Subunits of the administrative unit first edit their own material for particular sections of the manual. Then the individual who is responsible for the entire manual edits to create a consistent, complete draft for Academic and Administrative Documents (AAD). Finally, AAD edits the manual for the finer points of style and format as described in this book. Again, the length of time needed for editing varies with the number of manual pages and availability of the individuals involved in the process. Typically, a subunit’s editing may take only one week, while the administrative unit’s editing may take three weeks, and AAD editing and word processing may take six weeks.


A great deal of informal review has already occurred in the editing process, but this schedule is for formal review of a new manual. Internal manual reviews by supervisors and administrators within the unit often can be completed within two weeks.

For an external manual, the internal review is followed by an external review. External manual reviews by appropriate administrators outside the unit usually take three to four weeks.


When a new manual has been approved for publication by appropriate administrators, the committee moves the manual to the production phase, adhering to a schedule established during the organization phase of the project. Production involves:

  1. completing a distribution list for the manual
  2. ordering binders and tab dividers
  3. generating labels for manual holders
  4. having the manual printed, collated, drilled (hole-punched), and inserted into the binders


  5. distributing and controlling the manuals.

It is important to schedule the development of the distribution list and the ordering of binders and tab dividers during the writing and editing phases of the project and the generation of labels during the review phase. If these components of production are delayed until the manual is printed, the administrative unit runs the risk of delaying distribution for several weeks after the manual is completed.

The fourth step usually can be completed in a few days to two weeks, depending on number of pages, number of copies, and availability of personnel and equipment for the task. If this step is completed by an outside vendor, it is likely to take longer regardless of the number of pages or number of copies.

Manual distribution usually can be accomplished in just a few days.

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Note:Please be advised that the policies and procedures used as examples in the CAM manual are often out of date and no longer applicable. They were chosen as examples when the CAM manual was revised in 1992. To access the current policies and procedures manuals, please go to http://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals.

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