Re: Design

Subject: Re: Design
From: "David Neeley" <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2007 09:41:36 -0600

From: <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>

"There is a wide range of "printing." A tech writer should not have to
know much beyond how to make a good-looking PDF to be sent to a color
Xerox machine."

My major point is that tech writers who consider themselves printing
production specialists had better know what they are about to do
so--if they want to get the best and most cost-effective results for
their employers.

It is true that there are "graphic designers" who are no more skilled
than some who bill themselves as "tech writers." It is also true that
a tech writer--in the best of all possible worlds--would be able to
call upon specialists for things outside the writing milieu.

I would never suggest that we are not called all too frequently to be
involved in what is more a graphics design province. Most of us have
experience with the "penny wise/pound foolish" types who want to hire
folks with the ability to "do it all"---and too often get everything
with a mediocre quality, or projects that take much longer to finish
than if they had true specialists in the various disciplines.

I would certainly never suggest, either, that there are not
individuals who are extremely competent in a variety of these
tasks--although I suspect the number who are skilled in print
production among our ranks are a fast-dying breed.

As for "putting everything in a .pdf and letting the printer handle
it"--the color model you choose at the time of creating the .pdf may
dictate the process the printer will use. If I do a fold-out diagram
(to use the original example) in Illustrator, say, I may want to
create separations for the .pdf with specific Pantone colors for each
one. That makes the task for the printer simple. (Although, truth be
told, I would normally create the separations in black but with the
pantone color for each specified--that seems to make for better
results with the imagesetter. I would also include a color rendition
of what the finished piece should look like, for reference.)

If you create the .pdf with computer color--the RGB model--you also
take some chances with the conversion to a "full color" printing
colorspace such as CMYK. Additionally, as I mentioned before, line art
can be somewhat problematical when the colors are produced via CMYK.
Registration, for instance, becomes more critical.

If this discussion has persuaded the original questioner to solicit
the input of a good printer early in the process, then that is a good


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