Copy Preparation


Offset Copy Preparation, as a function in the Government Printing Office, serves as the inspector and judge for all reproducible materials used in lithographic production. This range of materials includes cold-type copy; reproduction proofs of metal composing; line art; photographs; manuscript copy for phototypesetting or metal composition; multicolor work, including overlays, screen media, and process materials; negatives, both line and halftones of various screenings; positives for use as copy or deep-etch platemaking; and the multitude of various stencil and duplicating materials.

Offset Copy Preparation provides the technical skill, the special re-sources and services necessary to provide complete photographic copy for the lithographic cameras. These skills and services are used in a diversified field which ranges from evaluation and inspection of furnished reproducibles to the production of final reproducibles from raw materials.

Copy preparers, then, are charged with determining what work needs to be done to produce a complete offset job, accomplishing this work, or establishing orders for its accomplishment, such as obtaining reproduction proofs from the Composing Division or photoprints from the photographic laboratory and forwarding the completed reproducible to the Offset Negative Section for camera work or to the plate-maker for platemaking. This clearinghouse type of operation relieves the cameraman of preliminary layout, combining, and sizing of camera copy. He can devote full time to camera operation without costly production delays for copy preparation during the process of photography.

The operations covered by preparation may be very simple, as in the case of same-size one-color camera copy ready for camera without stripping or other operations. The only demands on preparation in this case would be providing the jacket control numbers and size instruction on the copy for identification during production, completing a suitable order to the photographer, and forwarding the job to the next step of production.

This is an oversimplification in that few jobs fall into this simple classification. Most jobs require supplemental work to supply material to cover deficiencies, which in this instance means any incompleteness in the copy as received which will require additional work or material to bring the copy to a condition of being complete for the camera and other printing operations.

A summary of steps involved in a more detailed job are as follows: (1) Inspect and evaluate submitted material, (2) establish quality control standards, (3) separate various parts of the material and route them to the proper units according to functions, (4) order type set for reproduction proofs of metal type or photocomposition, (5) make up paper pages as necessary, (6) perform pen-and-ink ruling as required to complete tabular or other matter, (7) establish margins, bleeds, and trim marks, and place them on camera copy as necessary, (8) size text and illustrations for photographing to printing size, (9) locate and mark stripping guides, (10) cut and place windows, blocks of color for screen areas and hand-cut masks, (11) identify overlays furnished with art for camera; if not furnished, create necessary overlays and register them with base copy, (12) preimpose camera copy, (13) establish various values of screens required in conformity with good production practice, (14) provide price lines, signature lines, and other incidentals to required identification, (15) complete identification of material and furnish data sheets for preparation of contract specifications or job jackets for plant production, (16) initiate offset orders to the Negative Section, and (17) provide adequate entries on production control cards to show progress of production.

In applying practice to the individual job, various details of listed items may be expanded to a considerable degree. Each job has its own unique problems which must be solved by the preparer in an individual manner. These solutions are so varied that a complete listing of the functions performed is impractical. A measure of the changing character of the functions may be obtained from the fact that 61 instruction orders have been carefully compiled since 1957 to guide each preparer through complex procedures in a uniform fashion.