Preparing documents for reproduction

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Reproduction may be done in-house, if facilities are available, or may be subcontracted to an outside copy shop or printer (see Using third-party resources). In large organizations, even if reproduction is done in-house, there may be a separate reproduction department, so many of the guidelines that apply to using external resources will still apply.

Managing the publication process

Document the process

Although probably the last thing you want to do when you are nearing the completion of a documentation project is produce more documentation, it is always a good idea to ensure that the publication process itself is documented. In particular, you need to identify:

  • Who is developing the content (authors, illustrators, editors);
  • Who is responsible for collating this content and providing it to the copy shop;
  • How the content gets to the copy shop;
  • Who the copy shop should contact if they have questions or problems;
  • Who is responsible for printing, binding and distribution (may not all be the same group);
  • Who is responsible for approving the final copy, and what is the process for resolving issues;

Make sure that all parties involved in the process are informed of, and agree to, this process.

Identify the deliverables

For each finished publication, provide a list of all of the components that comprise that publication. For example, a publication may consist of text and illustrations, and these may be provided to the copy shop separately, over several files.

Identify the location of each component. This is especially important if some components are provided in hardcopy form. Where possible, make sure that all components for a publication are bundled together into a 'job bag' for that publication (even if this means duplicating some components).

Ensure that the format of each source document is identified. For example, identify whether the copy shop will receive the source documents as Acrobat PDF files, Word documents, JPEG images, and so on. Make sure that the content developers know that they must deliver the content in this format, and advise the copy shop is understands that they will receive the content in this format.

Ensure that all documents have unique identifiers. Consider including a version number and date. Make sure that the version number and date is also specified on the component list, so that the copy shop can make sure that they are indeed copying the latest version (especially where 'late changes' are sent to the copy shop separately, after the initial delivery of the job.

Draw up a timetable

Have a timetable that indicates exactly when things will be delivered to the copy shop, and when they are expected back. In some cases, different components may be delivered at different times, for example quick reference cards that are to be laminated may need to be delivered to the copy shop earlier than loose-leaf manuals, as they will take longer to produce. In this case, the timetable should identify the dates for each component separately.

Make sure that the timetable is given to (and agreed by) all parties involved - the copy shop, the authors, illustrators, and editors, and the client who has commissioned the documentation. If the timetable changes (for example, because a key milestone is missed) then it is important that the timetable is updated with the new dates, and then redistributed to everyone who received the original timetable. For this reason, it is worthwhile providing a version number and date on the timetable.

Provide checklists

Have checklists (of what to check at each stage: headings OK, footers correct, position of footnotes, etc.)

Basic flow of activities

  1. Commission
  2. Draft
  3. Review
  4. Correct
  5. Printer's copy
  6. Typeset
  7. First proof
  8. Review
  9. Correct
  10. Final page
  11. Print
  12. Bind
  13. Distribute

Preparing text

If typesetting done separately, then text needs to be created in 'vanilla' form - no extraneous tabs or carriage returns, as the style sheet for the DTP program will generally take care of that.

Preparing pages

May be done by software, or by cutting and pasting

If cutting and pasting, always keep an uncut master copy

Preparing artwork

Manually producing drawings: done on either line board or translucent drafting film

Position of drawings should be shown by a keyline so that the printer knows where to strip the illustration in.

Consider also camera-ready artwork (i.e. already pasted up) - though most good packages allow you to have everything in place before printing the camera-ready copy.

If color separations used then need to consider registration marks and a color guide

For solid areas of color, mark the outline and then specify the color - the printer will then reverse this.

Reduction marking: either 'reduce by' or 'reduce to'. Need to identify clearly which is being used.

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