Summary: Printing Word files on Docutech systems

Subject: Summary: Printing Word files on Docutech systems
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 09:16:43 -0400

Yesterday, I asked for advice on producing user manuals on a Docutech
system, with the files created in Word 97. (My current service bureau, which
has otherwise been great, recommended just sending the Word file and letting
them worry about line breaks etc. Fifteen years of printing experience tell
me this is a Really Bad Idea.) As always, techwr-l came through in a big

Working with a printer who knows the equipment inside out and can advise you
on the best settings is going to avoid all kinds of grief. A company with
several Docutechs, that's been using them with well-trained technicians for
several years, and that can work with you for last-minute corrections (e.g.,
inserting a new page in the middle of the document) is best. One really good
screening question to ask: "what print driver do you recommend?" If they've
never heard of a Docutech driver, stay far away; if they recommend a
different driver, that's not necessarily a deal-killer, provided they can
explain why they don't want to use the Docutech driver. I won't recommend
any printers that were mentioned in replies, since can't provide a reference
to them and because Eric may not want to see such advertising on the list.
Fortunately, Docutech is a Xerox product and your local Xerox office can
provide good technical information and referrals to local printshops who
provide Docutech services. As I noted in my original message, I'm going to
ask my local service bureaus for their specific recommendations, and as in
any other printing I do, I'll insist on a proof before committing to
printing the whole job.

One overall caution: since Word is something of an idiot when it comes to
updating field codes, make sure you select all (Control-A) and press F9 to
update fields. And as in any other publishing project, have a look through
the file to spot any problems that you know weren't there the first five
read-throughs, but somehow magically appear this time. <g>

Sending the printer a PostScript file seems to be the favorite approach, but
you must obtain a suitable Docutech print driver. One person reported
problems with sending PostScript to a Docutech, but did not specify details
of drivers etc. and whether they'd worked closely with the printer to tweak
their software settings first. Others suggested that PostScript worked
flawlessly provided that they used the same driver as their print shop
(ideally, one customized for your specific application and operating system)
and didn't try to push Word beyond its layout capabilities (e.g., bleeding
graphics across two pages). Kinkos offers a print driver plus viewer that
can be downloaded from their web site ( I haven't yet gone
there to see what the details are, and whether they restrict the driver for
use by Kinkos clients.

PDF seems to work well too, though you may have a harder time finding a
print shop that has experience printing PDF to Docutech. (One thing I did
discover through my own research was that there's a known problem with fine
lines printed at 600 dpi; these can often vanish because of limitations in
the printing technology. Two possible workarounds are to distill the files
to only 300 dpi resolution, and to use only Postscript-based lines, rather
than lines defined in Word.) If you opt to use PDF, two important warnings:
First, embed all your fonts to be sure that there are no font-substitution
surprises. Second, Larry Scott suggested customizing the "screen frequency"
(halftoning) settings to help the bitmaps come out better: set the screen
frequency to 60 and the screen angle to 45 degrees (for HP printers, these
options appear under "Halftoning" in the printer settings).

Thanks to Susan Ahrenhold, Melissa Fisher, Theodore Hornoi, Cindy Hudson,
Barry Kieffer, Al Rubottom, Larry Scott, Maggie Secara, Mike Starr, Henry
Vandelinde, Rick Vantour, and Lydia Wong.

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