RE: Press (printing) Options - Long reply

Subject: RE: Press (printing) Options - Long reply
From: "Beth Agnew" <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 18:03:04 -0400

First, be sure you know the reasons for having printed versions of your
documentation. You'll want to have this clearly articulated so that you
don't get 3/4 of the way through the process and have someone say "Why can't
we just deliver all this on PDF for free?"

Next, consider working with a print broker. These are people who are
knowledgeable about all aspects of printing and speak the printers' lingo.
It is their business to turn client needs and wants into the final printed
output. They get paid from the difference between the retail printing cost
to your company, and what the wholesale price is for the printer.
Essentially the print broker would bring you a quote for the job, you'd
approve it, and pay the broker upon receipt of the finished manuals. What
they then have to pay the printer is generally not disclosed to you. A good
print broker will educate you along the entire process, and solve problems
that could drive you to distraction if you had to figure them out yourself.
They will also be able to give you exact specifications for the files that
need to be sent to the printer, and make sure you're taking the shortest
distance between the two points.

It is good to involve either your print broker or your printing supplier in
your project as early as possible in the cycle so that they can help you
plan for the best output. You may have to make some design decisions (i.e.,
# of total pages) based on costs, so establish that working relationship as
soon as possible and keep them in the loop on your production progress.

Since your costs should be about the same whether you work with a print
broker (who finds the printing supplier for you) or you source it yourself
(you'll want to get competitive quotes on your document specifications from
at least 3 printing suppliers), it comes down to a matter of choice and how
much time you have to deal with printing matters.

Your printing supplier should let you know how long their lead time is from
receipt of files to finished output delivered to you or your packager. This
could be anywhere from four weeks to three months or more depending upon the
job. The ink has to dry, the pages have to be cut, the glue in the binding
has to dry, the laminated covers have to dry, and so on.

Obviously, the printer's lead time must be factored into your product
schedule so everyone knows when those printed manuals are going to be ready.
If you want the manuals ready the same day as the product is released, the
product details have to be frozen and remain unchanged from the date the
files go to the printer. Some companies simply can't manage their product
life cycle to handle this, and rely on the last-minute nature of PDF

DocuTechs are Xerox brand high performance printers that provide output for
press printing. You will need a driver for whatever printer your print
supplier specifies. You will likely deliver a PDF file to your printer or

There's tons more to know and learn about working with printers and getting
correct output. I'd recommend you research book printing procedures.

There have been printers who specialize in manuals who have exhibited at STC
Conferences in the past. You can probably find them in a vendor's list. And
even techwr-l may have a manual printer as a sponsor, although for cost
reasons a lot of companies are going the PDF only route. Experienced manual
printers would be able to help you more than your average book printer.

It can be a headache, but it can also be quite a valuable learning
experience. Good luck!

Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
416-491-5050 x3133

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-118812 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-118812 -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]On Behalf Of Anne
Allaire Burke
Sent: Monday, October 04, 2004 3:34 PM
Subject: Press (printing) Options

I'm working as the first and only tech writer for a company. I've got
minimal experience dealing with printing options & vendors. In the past,
all of the details have been previously worked out.

However, now I'm in the position to research and make the best decision
regarding printing options. I'm curious about what those options are??
What exactly is docutech printing? Is this the best way to go for user

Any other words of wisdom on the matter?



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