Trouble with screen shots?

Subject: Trouble with screen shots?
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 09:23:57 -0600

Andrea Kenner wrote to express problems with rerpducing
screenshots in her manuals: <<When we print the original
copy of our manuals on our HP 4 printer (600 dpi), the
screen shots look fine. The problem arises when we try to
reproduce our manuals on a high-speed photocopier. The
screen shots in the resulting copies are barely readable.>>

Is this the DocuTech curse I've heard about? <grin> Part of
the problem is undoubtedly the fact that photocopiers
almost always darken up the copies, and that can muddy up
most types of images; lightening the images results in
overly light text. (The reverse can also happen.) A good
copier operator might still be able to correct the problem,
but don't bet on it: the difference between the scanning
resolution of the copier and the output resolution of the
printer creates moires and other ghastly problems wherever
you have shades of grey. You could possibly fix this by
doing some tests and adjusting how you process the images
in Paintshop, but that's a lot of work and won't guarantee
success.

A better solution may be to avoid the copier in the first
place. Photocopying is only really economical for short
print runs; for long runs, economics dictate the use of
offset or web printing with metal printing plates. In
between, most good printers offer the use of "paper"
printing plates, which are substantially cheaper than metal
plates, though of lower quality, and are often
cost-competitive with photocopying. The actual break-even
point will depend on your local printers and how the cost
their jobs. If one printer can't do the job for you, shop
around.

Here's another trick that may work: output the print jobs
to _disk_ (not to the printer) using a postscript printer
driver, and send that file to a typesetting bureau to
output for you at 1200 to 2400 dpi resolution; specify film
if you want to go to offset printing, or "paper positives"
if you still want to use the copier. That will require some
troubleshooting and testing, but it works very well for
many people. You can do something similar using Acrobat:
some advertising agencies do all their color printing this
way.

<<...a printing vendor... advised us to convert our
documents to PageMaker and then to a PostScript file that
could be imported into their printing system. However, ...
one of us did a brief trial of PageMaker and found it quite
difficult to use.>>

_Any_ software that outputs good Postscript code will meet
your needs. Quark is another common choice, but not for
long technical manuals; Frame is yet another, and is
particularly good for technical manuals. I've never heard
anyone call PageMaker difficult to use, let alone "quite
difficult"... I learned it in an hour and was "expert" in
less than a week. Maybe you picked the wrong person to
evaluate it? Maybe they didn't read the tutorial?

<<Up until now, the printer has done the PageMaker
conversion for us, and has made numerous last-minute
changes to the final copy, at great cost to us.>>

Yech. That's the most expensive way you could choose to do
it, and is always a source of errors. (You may get lucky
once or twice, but not often.) The whole purpose of desktop
publishing is to avoid this specific problem... you do the
proofing yourself. I'm not surprised you want to change.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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