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