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The keys to successful documentation are planning and efficiency. A mutual understanding of the final product, a schedule, adherence to both internal and commercial standards, use of state-of-the-art hardware and software, and coordination of all the players in the documentation arena are pertinent to the success of your project.
At Beyond Print, we have created an effective system to ensure that you receive an excellent product. We have designed a project planning survey that will ensure that we (Beyond Print and you, our client) are literally on the same page every step of the project.
Before work begins, we encourage our clients to complete this project planning survey that addresses the following important aspects of the documentation process:
- Your Needs
- Documentation Experience
- Publishing/Deployment Plan
- Look and Feel
- Page Layout
- Color Definitions
- Document Styles (Paragraph/Character Formats)
- Table Formats and Usage
- Automated Document Features
- Graphics Definitions
- Technical Specifications
- Graphics Standards
- User Preference Settings in FrameMaker
- Publishing Options/Requirements
- Hardware Configuration Requirements
This survey will identify important criteria for the end product to meet, as well as any client scheduling issues or concerns. Clients also are asked to provide a copy of their corporate style guide for documentation, if one exists, or to select an existing style guide to be followed (i.e., the Chicago Manual of Style).
We encourage the use of FrameMaker for most documentation projects. FrameMaker was designed with the entire publishing process in mind; most word processors were built to send small files to laser printers, not printing presses. To that end, FrameMaker is not a regular word processor; it is a document publishing software package that incorporates the publishing industry standards into its final product, to make production efficient and error-free. Because FrameMaker is a specialized software application designed specifically for documentation and publishing projects, it is more efficient than general word processing applications.
We have sent tens of thousands of pages of documentation to press, and have discovered that a seamless publishing (and an error-free) project begins with stable files. With our unique internal process we are able to assist in bringing your project to press- stress free!
Regardless of whether you want to deliver your documents in print or online, we follow the same basic procedure for producing your source files. We start with a clean, stable, well-planned template. Then we create your source files, ensuring that any imported files (i.e., graphics) are inserted properly. Finally, we create a PDF using the following 2-step procedure:
- Create a PostScript file from the source file
- Distill the PostScript file into a PDF file
Once the PDF file is created, it can be sent to print on a laser printer in the office or on a press in a shop, or it can be published online for people to view or download.