• 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


Computer technology allows parks to maintain control of the project right up to the final stages. Generally, the designer will complete the entire design on computer. This allows fewer opportunities for other people’s mistakes to creep in; all the mistakes will be yours.

Final Review

Before going to press a publication should be scrutinized carefully one last time for mistakes like spelling errors, correctly spelled but misused words that spell-check won’t find, incorrect labels on maps, and photos printed backwards. The alignment of all the images and type to the grid should be checked carefully. The type in all columns should line up horizontally. It works well to check this on hard copy so the grid doesn’t show and confuse your eye. Printing thumbnails can help as well.

The choice of how the publication will be reproduced is decided by: the number of copies needed, whether it will be reprinted over time, whether it is one color or multiple colors, the cost, and the capabilities of your printer. It’s important to discuss the options with your printer before you proceed.

DISK-TO-PLATE: For one-time, small runs (less than 500 copies) films may not be necessary, and a printer may use paper rather than metal plates to print. Larger runs will require metal plates.

FILM: Larger or more up-to-date printers can make film negatives directly from the computer disk you give them. These negatives will be used to create the printing plates. The advantage of going directly from disk to film is that there are no intermediate steps that may reduce quality. If a printer doesn’t have the capability to generate film, you may be able to take the disk to a nearby newspaper or service bureau and ask them to make film. If using GPO, specifications can be written that include the capability to run film from disk. Make sure the facility running the film has the same fonts you used on their computer. You will need to provide them with NPS Rawlinson since we own it. They must purchase any other fonts.

PRINTS: Many small printer shops only have the capability to accept a hard copy printout of your publication. They will photograph this with a camera and use the negative from the camera to make the printing plates. This does not usually work well if you are using photographs in the publication, because your office printer will automatically convert continuous tone art (photographs) to line art. Your print shop will do it again when they photograph the hardcopy, and quality will be significantly reduced. (The best option in this case is to find a service bureau that can make film from disk.) Prints should be made using the best computer printer available to you. Quality paper should be chosen as well. Computer stores or catalogs carry a wide variety of hard surface paper specifically designed for most printers. If your computer printer will accept 11" x 17" paper, the publication can be run out on that after setting your print menu to show printer’s marks. This will give the printer a large sheet to work with that shows the trim lines for the edge of the page.

LAYOUT FOR BLEEDS: Bleeds, such as the black title band, are printed with the ink wider than the designed page, then the page is trimmed to final size, cutting off the extra. To prepare your layout for the printer, extend the black title bar 1/8” beyond what will be the edge of the paper. This is necessary because printing presses can’t place ink right up to the edge of the paper and they must have a little space for the machinery to grip the paper.

Quick-print or Copying Service

Depending on the number of copies needed (usually under 250) and the availability of such services, you may want to run off high-quality paper copies without going to a commercial printer. Be aware that these services may or may not include folding the copies. Check with your local Government Printing Office about firms already under contract and what constitutes "printing" in the eyes of the government.

Commercial Printing

Commercial printing is usually a good choice when you need more than 250 copies of a publication. Costs decrease the more copies you print. You get more for your money if you print more copies less often. Consider printing enough copies of a publication that doesn’t change often, like a bird list, to last several years. You won’t have that option with subjects that do change frequently, such as fishing regulations. Another advantage of commercial printers is that they can fold your publication.

Office Copier on Pre-printed Title Sheets

The distinctive title band can still be used for short runs on the office copier by pre-printing blank sheets with the band at the top. You can print enough to last several years. The publication is then laid out with all the usual elements except the title band. A clean copy of the brochure is made on quality paper from a computer printer and used as a master for copies directly on the pre-printed title sheets. Always use your quality original master for making copies. Avoid making copies from copies as the quality will deteriorate with each generation. Never make copies from a master with the full bleed black title band; office copiers will not copy to the edge of the paper and most will not duplicate the rich black of the band. The title sheets would be prepared for the printer as a layout for bleeds. A disadvantage of this method is that the brochure must be folded by hand, another reason to use this for small runs.

Office Copier

For reproduction solely by office copier, a master would be made on computer printer, using quality paper, with the alternative title band without the bleed. This master would be copied directly onto standard copy paper. The copies would then be hand-folded.

Browse the Harpers Ferry Center:

Browse the National Park Service: