• Part of a roofline shows from one building. Trees with fall color leaves on them fill most of the photo. A lamp-post is near center of the photo.

    Harpers Ferry Center

Getting Started

The focus of this web site is design, but before you can do that you must consider the focus of the publication. In planning for a proposed site bulletin, establish the need first. Determine that it meets the interpretive themes and goals of the park and addresses the intended audience. You must also establish a distribution system. Consider the best way to present the information. A publication is not the only choice. The best method may be a ranger-led program, poster, message on a bulletin board, sign, wayside, or exhibit. The most effective method should be the one that meets the need.

Determine the primary focus of the publication and work out the hierarchy of information. Site bulletins are well suited for addressing a single topic. Consider how best to present the information within it: text, lists, charts, illustrations, maps, or diagrams. Integrating all of the elements in the planning stage will make writing text easier. The writing should be focused and tightly edited.

It’s valuable to do some planning for your entire publications program. Establishing the park's needs as a whole can allow you to budget time and resources wisely, combine and eliminate ideas to reduce costs, and deter indiscriminate growth. See "Developing a Park Publications Plan" (Information Design, p. 5) and "Budgeting for Publications" (Information Design, p. 81).

Several methods of reproduction are available depending on the printing budget, the quantity needed, and the immediacy of the publication. The site bulletin can be printed at a print shop, copied using a standard office copier on pre-printed site bulletin title sheets, or copied entirely on an office copier.

The original 1980s site bulletin system used typewriter for text, rub-on letters for titles, and adhesive tape for bars. This web site updates the system for use with standard computer software and hardware. The National Park Service standard for word processing is Microsoft Word. Page layout programs such as Adobe PageMaker, Adobe InDesign, and QuarkXpress are available, drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Macromedia Freehand can be used to prepare drawings and maps, and image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint can be used to prepare photographs and line art. These programs can all be supported on National Park Service standard computer hardware. The choice of software will depend on what is available in your park, which programs work well together, and what your local printer uses. These are great tools that require learning and practice, but don't let the technology get away from you.

See "Working With Cooperating Associations" (Information Design, p. 89) and "Publishing With Partners" (Information Design, p. 91).

Planning a Time Line

It takes time to produce a publication. The method of reproduction and the complexity of the project will determine how much time. A simple brochure needed next week can meet the deadline using office copier reproduction. A brochure dealing with a more complicated topic or being reproduced by commercial printing will take longer.

Work with your printer. Some times of the year they are busier than others. If you allow your printer a little leeway in when you need your job, they may be able to slip it in between bigger jobs and give you a small price break. There is no such thing as a "rush job" to a printer. Don’t even ask. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on their part. The more you understand the needs of your printer and work with them, the more likely they are to work with you when you really need a break.

Larger projects need careful planning if you have a deadline. Start at the end and work back. When do you need the brochure? If not printed locally how long will shipping take? How long will it take the printer, whether local or GPO? How long will the park review process take? How long will layout and design take? How long will it take you to edit text, convert a map, find art and photos? How long will it take to write? How long will it take to plan themes, goals, and objectives? When all of these questions have been answered, work back from the date you need the brochure and you will have calculated the minimum time you need.

You’re not alone

This system has been in use since the early 1980s and many field interpreters have experience with it. Seek these people out, look at other site bulletins for ideas and inspiration, and call for help. See "Tips and Tricks From the Field" (Information Design, p. 95).

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