Printing problems - summary

Subject: Printing problems - summary
From: Linda Gallagher <73654 -dot- 1420 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 14:47:51 EDT


Thank you to everyone who sent me information about printing problems
and how to avoid them. Eleven people responded with information.

Here is a summary of what they said:

The most common theme in the responses is the need to communicate
clearly with printers. This communication involves several aspects including:

- Talk to the printer in advance to explain what you need and to learn what
the printer needs from you.

- Clearly telling the printer what you need and expect. Include written
At least one person suggested sending a "mock up" of what the final document
should look like with notes written in red.

- Show the printer examples of the quality you need, especially for graphics.
Explain that no streaks or black spots are acceptable.

- Meet with the printer to review your needs and your samples and ask to see
samples of their work.

- Get a proof of your document before it goes to print. Review the proof
and go over any needed corrections with the printer.

- Ask the printer to educate you about the printing process.

On the topic of problems techwrlers have encountered, below is a laundry list:

- 2-sided copy that does not line up properly on both sides

- Folded pages that were not trimmed to fit

- Graphics with streaks running through them

- Printers who cannot work with PC diskettes

- Late delivery

- Wrong paper

- Binding errors

- Covers that fell off

- Paper that is different colors in different signatures (need to ask for paper
was produced in consecutive batches)

- Tabs cut wrong

- Too many pages for the binder

- Illustrations mangled by a high-speed machine that produced negatives from the

- Registration cards that were backwards or not perforated

Several people suggested that the training needs to be two-way, that is,
technical writers need to train printers on their needs and quality
requirements (as noted above) and printers need to help technical
writers (and others ) understand what they do, how they do it, and
what they need. Some even suggested that printers should hold
classes (some apparently do) to teach customers about printing.

A few other miscellaneous suggestions that warrant mentioning:

- Printers should create and provide a spec form that is easy to understand,
not full of jargon.

- Have printers train you on the electronic document formats and conversions
that work with their equipment (specifically the Xerox Docutek).

- Ask the printer to give your name and phone number to the person who
uns the job.

- Printers should do more to provide customer service that includes helping
you make good choices that fit your needs and budget.

- Review the completed job at the printer's location with your contact
person present

That about does it. I hope this is helpful to other techwrlers. Thank you again
to those who shared their knowledge and experiences.

Linda Gallagher
TechCom Plus

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