Booklets or anything saddle-stitched

Subject: Booklets or anything saddle-stitched
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 13:30:11 -0400

Here's your situation. How do you approach it?

All your major docs for your company's combined hardware-and-software
products are no longer printed. You make PDFs or WebHelp. Customers need
_something_ printed to tell them where to start, when they first open
the box. Some time ago, for this purpose, you created a picture-heavy
QuickStart Guide sheet. Well, actually it was three sheets,
double-sided, corner-stapled and tossed in the box where it would be the
first thing found by a customer. The QSG was done on a color laser
printer on the factory floor. For the unionized factory workers, the
required Work Instruction (made by some guy who coordinates getting
product from Development and QA into production) was quite simple. Open
the file in Adobe Reader, select Print, select two-sided long-edge,
click [Print], grab printout, line up the pages, staple the upper-left
corner, toss in box, close box, affix shipping label.....

Somebody thinks stapled set of pages looks way too "homemade". They
want to shrink the format to half the size (so a few more pages) and
fold and staple as a booklet, with a pretty cover.

You need to produce a document:

a) that you won't print, but

b) that might be printed by a factory worker or

c) that might be printed by a printing services company (as product
sales volume increases)

d) that should most likely use standard-size paper (US-letter or A4)
folded in half and nested

e) that should require no cutting (at least not for factory-floor

And it should be just one version; otherwise the people who are forced
to double up the number of Bills of Materials will be annoyed.

For small-volume, as-needed, the factory worker will be doing the doc on
a laser printer, so the layout must work to make the pages come together
properly - all right-side-up and properly paginated when nested and

For larger volumes, an employee of a third-party printing services
company would have access to automatic imposition software that would
accept a standard sequentially paged book file (PDF) and take care of
creating the signatures for whatever paper size they preferred.

Is that roughly the situation today? I haven't dealt with printed books
or booklets since the 1990s, so I'm a little out of touch.

My simplest solution is to just pretend that printing will always be
professionally done, and supply a straight-ahead book file of 8.5 x 5.5
pages, sequentially numbered, and wash my hands of the whole thing. I
could suggest that the operations people acquire a copy of ClickBook or
similar software and print from that. The guy who writes Work
Instructions would need to install the program in the factory, and learn
it well enough to write a bullet-proof WI around it.

Am I over-thinking, or thinking in the wrong directions?

- Kevin

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