When you create or revise test questions or a lecture outline or a student study guide for a textbook, you’ll need a variety of materials, printed and electronic.
Here’s a list of all the potential items you could need for a college textbook supplement or ancillary project in order to do a great job and get the project done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Each project is different, so you may not need all of these.
Your Contract for the Project
Your contract usually gives important details like the due date, the number and types of questions per chapter, or the number of lecture slides per chapter.
Guidelines for the Project
Specific instructions for what to include and how exactly the work should be done are sometimes included in guidelines that your editor will give you. This is most common when you’re creating multiple-choice questions and other types of questions, and it include specifics like how to write good questions, how to format them, and what percentage need to be in what categories of Bloom’s taxonomy of questions.
Many times, though, guidelines are included in the contract, often as an addendum or exhibit.
New Edition of the Textbook
If you’re fortunate, the new edition of the textbook you’re working on is already printed. I like to work from hard copy because it’s less strain on my eyes: I don’t have to read everything from a computer screen.
PDF Files of the New Edition of the Textbook
You’ll want PDF files of the entire textbook. This is useful for finding where certain material is by employing the word-search function in Acrobat Reader. Also make sure you get all the front matter and back matter. You might need to see the detailed table of contents, for example, or you could need to refer students to material in the appendices.
Print-Outs of the PDF Files
You may want print-outs of the PDF files, if the printed text isn’t available yet. You usually don’t require them; however, often it’s very helpful to have the actual, physical pages to look at; the alternative is looking at pages on your computer and then toggling back and forth to whatever other program(s) you’re using.
And When There Are No PDF Files Yet…
If pages for the new edition of the text are not yet composed, you’ll likely have to use either the manuscript as a Word document, or the manuscript as a combination of photocopied pages of the old edition with indications of what material is deleted, along with additions of new material. If this happens, make sure you tell your editor that you want the actual page proofs as soon as they are available. (Trust me, it’s much easier to work from page proofs.)
If feasible, start work on the very last chapter and work backwards. You’re more likely to get more PDF page proofs this way, since the chapters usually become available starting with chapter 1.
Old Edition of the Textbook
You want a copy of the old edition of the textbook. You’ll likely need this for reference so you can see what’s been added and deleted between textbook editions.
Other Supplements, Ancillaries, and Learning/Studying Materials
If you are doing an instructor’s manual or student study guide, you may need to refer instructors or students to other resources produced by the publisher. Some may be specific to the textbook you’re working with, while others may be materials produced by the publisher that can be used with several different textbooks. Make sure you have all these resources before you begin, and make sure they are the current ones.
Get Everything You Need
Stay in touch with your editor and ensure you get what you need when you need it.
(This post is just one small part of the information I provide in my e-book Writing College Textbook Supplements, second edition.)
Your thoughts? Anything I should add to this list?