Saturday, June 20, 2009

From Galley to Page

Previous articles have described how type was set into columns utilizing several systems which evolved over time. But, whether they type was produced on plain paper or through a photographic process, the end result was the same. The long columns of type, called galleys, had to be cut apart and precisely positioned into the columns, headlines, and captions which made up each finished page of a document. The resulting camera-ready copy was then photographed by the printer utilizing a horizontal flat bed camera to create a full-size negative which, in turn was used to “burn” the plate used to print the finished product. The creation of the finished page was done by graphic artists on a drawing board who utilized a variety of tools and products to create the finished “pasted-up” document. Following are some of the tools that were used:

Each column was created by cutting the galleys to the specific length of each column and accurately aligning them using a t-square and triangle. The type was held in place utilizing a removable adhesive which allowed the layout artist to position and reposition the type as necessary. Rubber cement was the adhesive most widely used although many artists preferred to use a molten wax adhesive. In both cases, the adhesive was affixed to the back of the galley of type and placed into position.

Because the making of plates for the offset printing process required a separate negative for each color, screen, and photograph to be printed, each object had to be pasted up on its own sheet in order to be phtographed. In order to be sure these elements were properly positioned, they were pasted onto a clear acetate sheet, each layer on top of the previous. In order to create areas of color or tint, a product called Rubylith (and its cousin Amberlith) were used. This product was a clear sheet of acetate on which was a thin red film that could be cut into the needed shape and then peeled away from the acetate base as needed. For instance, if the artist wanted a 20% tint of black behind a box of type, the type and border for the box were pasted onto the base sheet, the Rubylith was placed over the area and the red film was cut along the lines of the box and all of it peeled off except for the area covering the box. Interestingly, this can be seen today as a function in Photoshop. When selecting a portion of a picture and then pressing the “Quick Mask” button, the selected area is highlighted in a transparent red which can then be further edited as necessary—Adobe’s tip-of-the-hat to the Ulano Company’s product.

Rules and boxes were created using a variety of products including some called Formaline. Available in a wide variety of sizes and designs, think of it as the rules that are available in InDesign, but in the form of an adhesive tape on a roll. Each line was put into place on the layout and held in place by the adhesive material on the back of the product. Boxes were made by placing four lengths of the rule perpendicular to each other (forming the four sides) and then cutting a 45 degree angle at each of the corners where two pieces intersected. If done accurately, this created a perfect corner. Thin lines, one point or less, were hand drawn using special ruling pens, the best of which were manufactured by Koh-I-Nor. The very fine tip created thin solid black lines and it required some skill to create lines of consistent weight.

Photographs were reproduced as halftones utilizing a screen and special photographic film in the print shop’s darkroom. The positioning of each photo required a “window”, usually cut from Rubylith or a similar product called Zipatone, which was the size and shape of the printed photo. Photos had to be cropped and scaled in proportion to the size of the window and each photo had to have crop marks and percentage of reduction clearly marked on it. The Proportion Scale was the tool used to quickly make the necessary calculation. Shaped like a wheel and not much more than a basic slide rule with two scales, the artist aligned the original size of the photo with its reproduction size and the resulting percentage appeared in a cutout area of the scale. For instance, if the length of the original picture was 8” and it was going to be reproduced at 3”, the proportion scale would indicate that the picture was to be photographed at 37.5% of its original size. Crop marks were affixed to the border of the original indicating the area of the photo to be reproduced and while maintain the proportions of the window that was made for it. It was a tedious process, but there was no option for either the graphic artists or the printers.

Other tools we used included the Haberule (used to measure leading), the X-Acto Knife (for cutting), Bestine (for thinning rubber cement), Zipatone (for placing screens, patterns, rules, and dingbats on camera-ready art), Presstype (for manually setting headlines), and process printing color charts (for specifying which percentages of the four printing inks were needed to attain a color).

It’s fun to look back at the way we created pages not too long ago and how easily each of these functions are now available at the click of a mouse in products like InDesign. Next week, I will describe the leap from manual pasteup to the use of page layout software. I hope you are enjoying this series of postings and I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Tasks

Although most of us think of summer as the time to kick back, take things a little easier, and enjoy some much-needed time off, it is also the time of year to get ready for the important fall selling season. Following are some of the important things you should look at in the coming months as you prepare for 2010 sales:

Editorial Calendar—Working with your organization’s editor, begin planning what major topics will be covered as feature stories in 2010. You should also start to plan for special issues such as a buyer’s guide, annual report, or other special topic that will attract advertisers. The calendar should also include information about which issues will be distributed at your association’s meetings, conferences, and conventions as well as events produced by others. Your editorial calendar is one of the most important parts of your media kit and will be utilized by advertisers and their agencies as they make their media purchasing plans.

Advertising Rates—Will you be increasing your advertising rates for 2010? If so, by how much? Now is the perfect time to do the necessary research so that you can devise a rate structure for next year that will keep you competitive while assuring that your direct and indirect costs are covered. Talk to your printer to find out if they will be increasing their charges for their services or the paper they use to produce your magazine. Check to see if there will be any increases in postal rates for the class of postage you use.

2010 Media Kit—Over the next several months you should develop and produce your 2010 advertising media kit. This is the perfect time to assess your current kit’s content and determine what changes or additional information you want to add to it. It’s also time to start planning for the design and production of the kit and all of its contents, as well as the form your kit will take in its electronic version available on your organization’s website.

Strategic Planning—This is probably the most important task to begin now. What are the goals for your publication for the year ahead? The budget process will require that you set revenue goals, but there are others to be considered. Are there companies or entire categories of advertisers you want to see purchase space in your magazine or on your website? If so, how will you get that to happen? Is the sales structure that is currently in place as effective as it can be? Is your publication holding its market share? Are you regularly communicating with your customers and prospects and is this communication delivering the results you had expected? These are issues that should be assessed now so that improvements can be made as the fall selling season begins.

Cross-selling Opportunities—Now is also a great time to look at all of the products and services offered by your association to the supplier community and create programs and incentives that are designed to increase income while also enhancing the value your association’s clients receive through their relationships with you. In today’s market, advertisers spend their money with the media that delivers the most value and exposure. Through a program of cross-selling, your association can take advantage of its strengths by meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers.

Enjoy the summer, but also plan ahead for the fall and all of next year. For more information visit our website at

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Advent of Phototypesetting

The typesetting systems described in previous postings all have had one thing in common: the image of each character was created by a font striking a black ribbon and imprinting the character on plain white paper. Although this produced sharp type, it was limited in the size and styles of fonts available. The introduction of phototypesetting technology rapidly changed that by offering broader selections of type available in sizes from 6 point to 72 point. There were several companies that perfected phototypesetting technologies in the early to mid 1970s including AM International (formerly Addressograph-Multigraph), Compugraphic Corp., Linotype Corp. and others.

Phototypesetting is a projection system whereby the flash of a strobe light is aimed through a negative image of each character and projected through a lens onto photographic paper. The size of each character is determined by either the distance from the paper to the lens or by the characteristics of each lens used. Some systems employed only one or two lenses and the operator either manually adjusted the distances or, as in later models, the distances were controlled by internal stepping motors. Coding for all characters and commands were embedded onto some type of storage medium. The first systems utilized paper tape with combinations of holes punched into it to drive the selection of each letter. Specialized keyboard devices, such as the device manufactured by Friden Corp. shown above, were used to create the coded paper tape (right). This technology was cumbersome, not easily correctable, and was quickly replaced by the use of magnetic medium, primarily in the form of large floppy discs. As each line of type was set, the machine inserted the exposed photosensitive paper into a light-proof cassette which, in turn was removed from the machine and put onto a chemical developing machine which safely fed the paper through a series of photographic development chemicals. The damp paper was then allowed to dry before it was able to be used.

The quality of the type was excellent, but if exposed to light, had a relatively short useful life. The paper would readily yellow and the characters would quickly fade, and the developing chemicals left an acrid aroma in the room in which they were used. The next generation of photographic paper was introduced which eliminated most of these problems. Called RC (resin coated) paper, type set on it was very clear, the image didn’t fade, and the paper was a bright white rather than the off white to yellowish color of its predecessor.

Whether type was set using a ribbon on paper or a photographic process, the result was the production of long columns of type, called galleys. The final pages were then created by “pasting up” the publication. The galleys were cut into columns, an adhesive applied to the back and the type was positioned into columns, headlines, captions, and the other elements of the printed page. The work was done on a drawing board and a t-square and triangle were used to properly line up the type. In next week’s posting, I will describe some of the tools used to “paste up” finished pages. It still amazes me to remember the time spent in creating pages this way compared to how easily and quickly it is now done in InDesign.

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