Quotations for printing 5,000 copies of the booklet were obtained from three printing companies, preselected on the basis of the quality of previous work. Final selection was based on the price quoted, quality of the finish, estimated delivery time and general reliability. The cost of printing was USD 1.43 each. Printing costs were budgeted under MEDP project funds.
Reaching consensus, drafting and re-drafting of material, editing and preparation of the document for printing can be a lengthy process.
Delays due to unexpected problems can also set back the estimated date of completion. The planning process should therefore be flexible enough to allow for changes to be made to take account of any delays experienced.
As expected, printing took approximately one month to complete. Submission of the document in camera-ready form for printing greatly reduced the amount of time required for printing and allowed total control over its final appearance.
However some problems were still experienced including:
• due to a lack of communication, no galley proof (a rough sample copy of the expected final product) was produced by the printer. Thus it was not possible to check before printing started that the pages were in the right sequence and of the correct size.
• the final trimming left the booklet some 13mm wider than the planned A6 size. The printers decided, without consultation, to leave slightly wider margins than specified to take account of the thickness of the document, folding of the pages and binding used. This was fortunately not a major problem as the booklet was still pocket-sized as intended.
• there was a mix up with pages due to the omission by the printers of a blank page after the inside cover page. Consequently all following odd numbered pages appeared on the left instead of right, with even numbered pages on the right-hand side. This was a fairly major problem which upset the booklet’s design. Text had been edited to flow across/over pages, the paediatric weight/age conversion charts were not positioned opposite explanations of their use, and the page numbering was on the inner instead of outer edge of page and thus only visible if the booklet was fully opened.
Otherwise the print quality was good with even the smallest font size easy to read.
Close collaboration and communication with the printer throughout the entire printing process is important to ensure that the final product is produced according to requirements.
This process begins with the selection of the printer and continues up to the packing and delivery of the finished product. The requirements for the publication (number, size, type and colour of paper, binding, any required artwork, colour(s) of ink to be used, etc.) must be carefully discussed and detailed before quotations are obtained. The printer should be chosen according to several criteria. These include:
• COST The cheapest may be the most attractive but must also be assessed according to other criteria.
• QUALITY Ask for examples of similar publications produced by the printer. Check these for clarity of print (is the inking too heavy or too faint? is there any smudging? are small font sizes easy to read?), neatness and strength of the type of binding required, position of pages (is the text in the right horizontal and vertical position?), the quality of trimming (are the edges of the publication smoothly cut?).
• DELIVERY DATE Can the printer complete the work within the time required? Will the printer deliver the finished product to you or will you have to collect it yourself?
• GENERAL RELIABILITY Try to consult with others who have used the printer to confirm that they are able to adhere to the agreed terms and requirements. Is the printer willing and able to maintain close contact and consultation with the client?
• ACCESSIBILITY Try to choose a printer who is close and whom you can therefore visit easily to check on progress throughout the printing process. Good telephone contact is not enough as instructions and information given over the telephone can be incomplete or misunderstood.
It is necessary to maintain close and regular contact with the printer throughout the printing process. Make regular checks on how the work is proceeding, both in terms of quality and timing. Make sure that the printer first produces a blank copy of the publication, so that you can check on the general quality and appearance. Always ask for a galley proof to be produced before you give the final approval for printing to proceed. When examining this, carefully check that all pages are present and in the correct position, both with regard to horizontal and vertical alignment/margins and page numbering (position of odd and even numbered pages).
Specify how you wish the publication to be packed for delivery and check the quality of the packaging used. You may want to have the publication packaged in pack sizes ideal for later distribution as this can save you time and effort in re-packing it yourself.