Decoding XML: a practical guide for editors

Markup languages such as XML and HTML have been around for almost as long as the internet itself, but it is only since the rise of multiformat publishing that their utility is being fully realised. Editors are increasingly working within markup systems, whether directly in code, indirectly in a content management system, or remotely in Word files that will be transformed into XML or HTML. A basic understanding of markup languages is an essential part of editing today, to equip editors with a transferable skill for any publishing workflow and to enable better communication with production, design and IT professionals.

This workshop introduces editors to core concepts of XML; the principal XML schemas in use in publishing; the difference between XML and HTML; and how, where and why markup languages are used in editorial workflows. Participants will learn how to use XML and CMS editing tools and how to edit for markup languages within common editing tools such as MS Word.


This full-day workshop includes practical exercised and covers four main areas:

1. XML core concepts, including markup languages, tags, DTDs, validation.

2. XML in publishing:

  • standards (eg JATS, DITA, DAISY, EPUB, ONIX and more)
  • XML in practice - what constitutes and XML system
  • markup and stylesheets

3. Editing in XML workflows:

  • Approaches to XML workflows
  • Advantages of single-source publishing systems
  • Evaluating XML publishing systems
  • Role of the editor in XML workflows

4. Editing tools, including MS Word, Word add-ins, specialist XML editors and dedicated XML systems.

Intended audience

The workshop is suitable for:

  • Freelance editors
  • In-house editors
  • All publishing areas eg trade publishing, communications, STM, academic, professional and reference, books, journals, websites
  • All levels of editorial experience

Assumed knowledge

Core editorial skills: language proficiency (including grammar and syntax), understanding of heading hierarchies, competence in using MS Word.

Note: this workshop does not teach participants detailed XML coding in any particular XML schema.
While some hands-on coding will take place, no prior coding knowledge is required. 

About the workshop

This is a full-day workshop for professional editors wanting to know more editing within and for markup languages such as XML and HTML. The workshop covers a broad range of content, but can easily be adapted to focus on particular aspects for specific industries or participants.

The workshhop has been run for the Society of Editors, NSW, and for the IPEd Australia national conference in 2015.