An Annotated Insurance Act. Is It an eBook?

Back in July I promised to post about the results of my Summer Writing List project. I determined that there has long been a need, based on reference questions, for an annotation to the Alberta Insurance Act. Proving that all things happen when they are meant to, a recent major revamp of Part 5 of our act dealing with Insurance Contracts was finally proclaimed in force as of July 2, 2012. I say finally because these amendments were published as S.A. 2008, c.19. This post is the story of the process of creating an Annotated Alberta Insurance Act.

First, I decided what contextual information to add to the legislation. This image captures the context:

The first step in creation of this document/ebook/research tool/reference source was to download a Word version of the Act. I chose to work from a word document for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I am very comfortable formatting in word, applying styles including colour coding and making a readable text copy for a screen with live hyperlinks. Secondly, from Word, it is easy to create a searchable PDF and a PDF is pretty easy to read on a mobile device. The tool was contemplated to fill the role of the insurance lawyers iPad or other tablet mobile copy of the act.

After the act was downloaded, I adjusted the margins to minimize wasted pages and dealt with standardizing the headers and footers. I then inserted the text box shown above to remind myself of the purpose (and which colours I chose for the annotation types).

Next, I created an internal bookmark and hyperlink for each section in the acts table of contents. This was a time consuming initiative since there are 874 sections of the act. Technical Note: if you are doing this, start at the bottom of the document and make bookmarks from the highest section number to lowest, and in groups of 10 or 12 sections at a time. Also use 00# leaders for the double and single digit sections. This is the most efficient way to create internal bookmarks and hyperlinks in word without having to scroll through long lists when making the link that matches a bookmark.

The next step – and the order of this could be adjusted – was linking all the regulations to the sections that they were promulgated under. This proved to be tricky since the original section numbers were not the same as when the regulations came out. At this point I also decided to include links to forms and material from the Superintendent of Insurance (I hate having to dig for the Standard Policy Forms links).

I then – and this should have been done last – placed links to CanLII case consideration searches in the document. I had a bit of a stumble at this step, because I originally linked to the section number in the document and left it at that. Later, I added some notes to the case links so that there could be some quasi-point in time searching. Case links after sections look like this:

While providing two case consideration search links was odd, it was required for this project given the major revamp of the legislation.

Finally, I added a concordance to the act, both from the last major rewrite in 1999 and to the pre-July 1, 2012 rewrite. This was done by some flipping and reading of the 1999 act and some print comparison – mostly with tables of contents – to the version just prior to the amendment. It was a case of answering the “what was this section number before” normal legislative reference question, just for the whole act and without a finding tool.

Someday – perhaps next summer, maybe sooner – I will link to internal research memos and opinions from this document.

The document has been posted to our Intranet on an Insurance Practice Page and I have helped a few people to download it to their mobile devices. The response has been complimentary.

My question for Slawyers is – what have I built? Is it a document or ebook or research tool or reference source? The answer to that isn’t terribly important as long as my lawyers find it useful.

I should also give a shout out to Jane Parkinson, CALL Member and former librarian for Parlee McLaws in Edmonton and Stikeman Elliot in Calgary for inspiring me with a concordance she made to some legislative changes to the Insurance Act back in 1999.


  1. My question for Slawyers is – what have I built? Is it a document or ebook or research tool or reference source? The answer to that isn’t terribly important as long as my lawyers find it useful.

    My answer: all of the above! In this context the last three choices are effectively synonymous, I’d say. And when you link to internal memos and opinions, it’s a KM resource as well.

    Would you consider publishing (likely without your internal value-added, I presume) as an ebook for the rest of us?

  2. Stay tuned Kim