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The Publications Process

Planning Your Publication

Decide the purpose of and audience for your publication before you call us. If you want a reprint of a previous publication, decide which elements, if any, should be changed before reprinting.

Things to consider include:

  • Why is this piece needed?
  • Who will read it?
  • Will it be sent by itself or with other publications?
  • What information must be included?
  • What else would I like to include if space allows?
  • What do I want the readers to do as a result of reading this piece?
  • How many copies do I need?
  • When will it need to be reprinted?
  • Will photographs need to be taken or other artwork produced?
  • Who should write the text?
  • Should the publication be a particular size or shape? (For example, must it fit in a business-size envelope, be a self-mailer or be the same size as other publications with which it will be used?)
  • Is this project in the publication office's budget or can I find money elsewhere to pay for it?
  • When and where do I want the finished publication delivered?


Publications can take much longer to produce than most people realize. You should contact the publications office two to three months before the desired delivery date for most publications and four months or more in advance for new, lengthy or complicated projects. It is in your best interest to give us adequate time to create a quality publication.

Although summer is a relatively relaxed time for many college offices, it's actually our busiest season, so plan accordingly.

It is occasionally possible to have a project completed in less than two months; if you have an important project that demands a "rush" schedule, check with the director of publications to see if production is possible within your time limits.

Getting Started

When you require a new publication or need to revise an existing one, contact us. The director will schedule a meeting to discuss your piece and will assign a publications office staffer as project director. This person will act as "traffic manager," guiding your project through the production process and will be our office's liaison with your office. The project director will create a production schedule that details when each stage of production will happen and when you'll need to review the publication in progress. It is the joint responsibility of you and the project director to see that each deadline is met.


The publications office has a list of projects scheduled for production in the current fiscal year. Contact us to find out if your publication is on the list. If it isn't, you are responsible for securing funding for it.

If you are planning a one-time-only publication (ex: a centennial celebration) that your department or office will pay for, call us in advance. We'll help you estimate how much the project will cost so you can ask that adequate funds be added to your budget.

We will ask appropriate printers to bid on your project and will give you cost estimates on projects covered by your budget. We also verify charges made by vendors for producing your piece and process their invoices.

The Production Process

Generally speaking, these are the major steps that all publications go through:

  1. Planning meeting is held
  2. Text is written and copy edited
  3. You review the manuscript
  4. Publication design is created and text is laid out
  5. Photographs and illustrations are added
  6. You review proof of design, which indicates how text and art will appear on each page
  7. Publication is sent for printing
  8. Finished publications are delivered to you

Planning Meeting

At our first meeting the project director assigned to your project will help you clarify your ideas about what content and design are best suited for your goals and audiences. You should come to this meeting prepared to answer the questions noted above under “Planning Your Publication.” A production schedule will be prepared soon after the planning meeting.


Writing may be done by our staff or yours. If we do the writing, your help is still needed to define the proper tone, gather background information and choose suitable people to interview. If your office writes the text, please fact-check every detail for accuracy. Refer to the Smith Style Guide for the proper punctuation, capitalization and other mechanics of style that should be followed in all college publications.

Then send us the final text. We prefer documents written in Microsoft Word, but we can translate documents created with many Macintosh and Windows word-processing programs. The most convenient method is to simply attach the text document to an email and send to your project director.

Copy Editing and Proofreading

All copy (text) is reviewed by our staff editor for consistency, accuracy and conformation to college style. Minor rewriting or reorganizing may be done to improve the clarity and readability of the material, but no extensive changes will be made without your knowledge. All publications this office produces must conform to college style guidelines.

At each stage of production, the editor provides quality control by checking proofs for text and design errors. The final responsibility for accuracy, however, rests with your office.

Approving Your Publication

You will examine and approve your publication twice during production, once for content and once for design and layout.

Content/Text Approval: You will be asked to approve the copy-edited manuscript. This is the last time that changes are relatively easy to make, so examine the copy in detail for errors and be sure you are happy with the content and "tone" of the piece.

Design/Layout Approval: You will be asked to approve printed page proofs that show where the text, photos and illustrations will go, the size and weight of headline type, and other design elements. The proof will be very close in appearance to the final publication, with artwork properly sized and in place. After this stage, it is not possible to make changes except in an emergency, so you should examine this proof carefully.

Because we work on many publications simultaneously, meeting approval deadlines is important. A day’s delay in approval can throw a tight production schedule as much as one week behind. Any changes consume staff time, which may delay your publication. Also, the cost of making changes and the chance of delivery being delayed by changes increase substantially as production progresses, so make changes early.

Design and Layout

The impression given by a publication depends heavily on its design and layout: the size, shape, type of paper, colors, artwork and arrangement of material chosen. Our staff designers will consider your suggestions and preferences along with the publication's practical demands and our general design guidelines (which give a unified appearance to all Smith publications). Our publications are designed and laid out using InDesign software.

Photography and Illustrations

Publications are immeasurably enhanced by artwork. Your ideas are valuable in planning the photos or illustrations that will work best in your publication. We choose most publication photos from an extensive archive of images on a wide variety of campus subjects.

Almost all of our annual budget for new photographs is consumed by the needs of our regularly scheduled publications. Additional photographs can be shot only when our (or your) budget allows. Photography is expensive and the director of publications must authorize all photo shoots. We do not take photos unless they will be used for a specific publication. (For example, we can't document a special event for archival reasons or to please sponsors.) And we cannot pay for photography in publications that are not in our department's budget.

Because we use freelance photographers whose schedules are often busy, shooting must be arranged well in advance. In your initial planning, discuss with your project director any events or people you'd like to have photographed for the piece.

When appropriate, our designers can create illustrations to enhance your publication. Requests for illustrations, even "simple" ones, should be made at the beginning of a project.


Because printers differ widely in capabilities, speed, quality and cost, this office chooses the printer best suited to the design requirements, schedule and budget of your project. Printers bid competitively for each publication, keeping Smith's costs down while maintaining quality.

Printing generally takes two to three weeks, depending on the complexity of the publication. Special services (such as spiral bindings or embossing) may take longer.

Delivery of Finished Publications

Samples of each publication are approved by our staff before the finished pieces are delivered to you. We will arrange delivery of publications to a campus location of your choice or to a mailing service off campus.

We cannot provide storage for your publications after delivery. You should make arrangements for storage in advance of delivery.

Labeling, Stuffing and Mailing

You should arrange to have mailing-address labels printed and applied, and to have your envelopes stuffed, stamped and mailed. The publications office does not provide these services. Contact Advancement Services about mailing labels, and contact Mail Services for mailing information. If your job is too large for them, they can recommend outside vendors.