Does your magazine designer use separate documents to build a magazine?

by Dean Cook, June 15, 2016
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A lot has happened in the production world over the last 10-20 years. Technological advances is just one of them, however Dean Cook hears how some fellow professionals are lagging behind to keep up with developments.

Having recently given individual PDF files from from a publisher raised a concern how the original files were being created. The concern was for the publisher and how much time and cost was being applied to produce each issue. What was it that gave us the clue? The page information near the registrations marks showed a different number to the folio. In fact most page information numbers showed as 1 or 2 when we would be expecting this number to be identical to the page number showing in the folios. This was proof that the designer created individual documents to build the magazine. By today’s standards this is very much an inefficient way of constructing pages. Just the thought of switching pages in the latter stages would be a headache.

In the late 90s, many professionals exercised this practice when they had limited hard disk space, computer memory and processing power. To speed up the efficiency to produce pages they simply broke down the pagination into smaller and more manageable sets.

As systems became faster and more hard disk space available – alongside the advancement of software – a chance to compile whole documents in a single document was made easier, yet, many employed the same old production methods. Habit, maybe? The publisher would still encounter the same level of inaccuracies, with the same old length of time in production and the costs associated with it.

The bottom line is lack of investment of time and in the tools. Had they done so, then today they would be able to turn round the documents faster, with greater flexibility whilst keeping a far better eye on overall consistency and deliver files more accurately reducing final proofs by the second round.

Comparable magazine production savings

If I use just one basic process of exporting a PDF file as an example, we can compare the time difference of working with individual documents to build pages and a complete set of pages in a single document:

  • To work with several Quark XPress documents would mean a need to repeat the same function at least a dozen times over to export individual PDF files then spend additional time to digitally stitch the PDFs together before eventually saving a complete file – this could invite unforeseen technical issues.
  • By comparison, working with complete document front to back from the outset means we can export and create a single comprehensive PDF in a fraction of the time and ensure all the technical aspects are included – not only that but the process optimises the final file better too.

Now imagine how much time and cost is consumed in other areas of production.

I was an avid user of Quark XPress – and even offered a job to work for them many moons ago – however, in 2005, I migrated to InDesign. Moving over to Adobe’s suite of software was an easy decision. It offered a harmonious ties with Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Professional too. The only thing I had to do was to invest time to adapt and get used to it.

Continual investment allows us to simply shave away a little time here, and a little time there. Ultimately it saves a lot of time in the long-run and reduce costs for the client.

If you are a publisher and would like to see if there is a more efficient way of working, just ask your designer if they are working with several documents to build a publication. If the answer is yes then drop us line on 01273 911730.

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