Re: Printing Process (long, summary reply)

Subject: Re: Printing Process (long, summary reply)
From: "Ridder, Fred" <ridderf -at- DIALOGIC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 12:47:58 -0500

On 10 March 1997, "Andrea G. Kenner" <agkenner -at- EROLS -dot- COM> posted a
long question about problems encountered when trying to reproduce
manuals that contain screen shots. The crux of the matter is that
the density of dots in grey areas must be appropriate to the method
of reproduction.

Andrea noted that
>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.

If high-speed photocopy from hard-copy master is to be the reproduction
method, there are two solutions that will work, both of which have been
noted by other posters:
1) change the settings used when captuing the screens to eliminate
greys (since these are what cause the reproduction problems).
This was suggested by Melonie Holliman <mrh -at- ABMDATA -dot- COM>.
2) print out the pages with screen shots at a lower DPI resolution
so that the individual dots will be large enough to photocopy
properly. This was mentioned by Sally Spahn <sspahn -at- CSCI -dot- CSC -dot- COM>
and others.

Rikki Mitman <techpub -at- SHARWEST -dot- COM> suggested:
>Find an output bureau that can work with your existing file formats and
>have them provide you with a high resolution (2000 dpi) master copy.
But this approach will make matters that much _worse_ if photocopy
reproducion is used. Remember that photocopy machines are generally
designed to _not_ reproduce uniform overall tones (e.g. the background
tone of colored paper), so the trick in reproducing a gray is to make
it a relatively low-density dot pattern to fool the copier.

All of this is basically analogous to the need to know the screen
density if you are trying to reproduce halftones in offset printing.
Any reproduction method that starts with a hard-copy original can
only hold detail down to a certain size and below that everything
tends to block up. One of the great advantages of PostScript is that
it is theoretically independent of the resoltion of the output device.
In reality, the perceived density of each step on the grey scale
does vary with the resolution and/or the specific output device, and
you may have to work with your print shop and run some tests to
determine how the results you see on proofs you print in-house on
your laser printer will map to their particular system.

Andrea further noted:
>We worked with a printing vendor who advised us to convert our documents
>to PageMaker and then to a PostScript file that could be imported into
>their printing system.
>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.

As other posters have noted, there is no real reason to go through the
PageMaker conversion just to generate a PostScript file. WinWord (either
6 or 7) can do this directly just by installing and selecting a
and selecting Print to File to generate the final output. The trick is
that specific printing systems (e.g. different vintage Xerox DocuTek
systems) may require the use of specific printer drivers. For example,
Charlie Kyle mentioned that the print shop he used provided a "Xerox
Printer" driver, but the AlphaGraphics shop I used to use at my previous
employer needed me to use the driver for an Apple LaserWriter II (using
any other driver produced a slightly different header on the PostScript
file, and this would totally paralyze the front-end computer of their
relatively old DocuTek).

Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM> noted:
>You ought to explore technology which lets you keep your authoring easy,
>but which can produce a PostScript output stream (PostScript level 2, if
>you want color). Whether PageMaker is the way you want to go, or to some
>other technology, You need a PostScript output at the back end. This is
>the industrial strength printer language you need to scale your process
>up. You can be in a position to format your books to a DAT tape, and
>then your options for finding compatible print vendors will explode.
>If you are tied to Word, this will always be a problem for you. <snip>

I think there is general agreement on using PostScript output,
particularly if you can then use a print shop with a DocuTek system
to produce large numbers of first-generation reprints (rather than
photocopying laser-printed originals). I'd also suggest another
method of handling PostScript output that works like a champ: e-mail.
I used to e-mail 100 to 350-page manuals to the print shop as zipped
attachments and never once had a problem.
The one statement I'd take issue with is Len's comment about
PostScript output always being a problem with Word. As noted above,
PostScript output is practically a no-brainer once you have the right
driver installed.

I hope this summary is useful to list members. At my last employer
I spent a lot of time over a 3-week period sorting out these kinds of
problems to start using a print shop's DocuTek system. But from the
first time I sent e-mail one day and saw 100 first-generation, bound
manuals come in the door two days later, I was sold on the method.

Fred Ridder (ridderf -at- dialogic -dot- com)
Senior Technical Writer
Dialogic Corporation
Parsippany, NJ

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