Publication layout and other questions

Subject: Publication layout and other questions
From: "Ken Poshedly" <Ken_Poshedly/Parts/ProductSupport/GA/KFI -at- kfiusa -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 09:57:16 -0400


I've just completed editing the first issue of a quarterly scientific
journal for an international organization to which I belong. This is my way
of combining my talent as a tech writer/publication editor with my interest
in the subjectmatter (amateur astronomy). I've been in the field as a
newspaper reporter/publications editor/ad copywriter and tech writer since
1974. (I've been a fulltime tech writer since early 1984 alone.)

Besides some general announcements about this and that, the journal
includes primarily unexciting reports stuffed with data that most
insomniacs would welcome to help them drift off to sleep. Under the
previous editor (a really decent guy -- but not a pubs editor -- who is a
geography professor at a nationally known university), the magazine was
something to look forward to and then place on the table after a couple of
minutes because it was just too much of a challenge to wade your way
through the pages and pages of small type, statistically-laden pie and bar
charts, etc., etc., etc.

The editor did this for about the last 25 years and you had to really,
really be dedicated to the topic to read the stuff, and I don't believe it
should be this way. The layout and presentation of the publication should
invite and possibly spur the reader's intrest. Anyway, I digress.

As the new editor (officially listed as "Markup and Assembly" for the time
being until some ego problems settle down), I'm introducing color (text
boxes and photos where practical) and publishing the approximately 40-page
document in both pdf for downloading from the organization's website (for
viewing and printing by individuals) and hardcopy format (for the great
unwashed who still fight pdf and online publishing).

I use FrameMaker as the pub layout program. To keep pub costs down, the
hardcopy version will be a standard black-and-white publication and
saddlestiched (double-stapled) on the spine and mailed in full-size
envelopes (yeah, I know it's cumbersome, but the powers-that-be don't want
to chance mutiliation of the books in the mailstream).

Now I invite some opinions:
1. The color pdf version for individual viewing/printing is produced by way
of printing to Acrobat PDF Writer and allowing its defaults to downsample
and otherwise compress the document. This issue of the journal, for
instance, is 39 pages and pdf's down to about 1.3 megabytes. So, is this a
good choice of methods or can it be done even more efficiently? And is the
file size considered outlandish for casual downloading/viewing/printing?

2. The b&w version is produced by way of likewise printing to Acrobat PDF
Writer, but without the downsampling and compression and with embedded
fonts, etc. Of course this results in a huge file (10 megabytes or
whatever), but I already know that this is for the printer to use and is
not for casual donwloading. Am I going about this the correct way? If not,
what is better and specifically what settings should I change (and what
should they be)?

3. Finally, I use primarily a two-column left justification on 8 1/2 x
11-inch page layout, with full justification on some portions ("About the
Author" boxes at article's end, etc.). Some folks prefer to full
justification throughout, which I don't like because it tends to give an
"institutional look" to the publication. What kinds of research or
professional opinions have you on this?

I'll be glad to answer questions about the organization itself and send the
"visual" pdf for personal review and reference. Simply e-mail me at
ken -dot- poshedly -at- mindspring -dot- com and NOT the e-mail address in the header of
this message.

-- Ken


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