Part 6

Tools, tricks and gizmos

For editors who do a significant amount of paste-up work, the operations discussed in the Part 5, together with the tools, tricks and gizmos mentioned below can save a world of effort.

Light box—may be purchased from commercial sources, but they are expensive. A handmade one is simple for the home craftsman to construct. If you aren’t a craftsman, recruit one. An open-topped box an inch larger in both length and width than the largest mechanical contemplated (12" x 18" is ideal), and five to six inches deep. Inside the box, three or four equally spaced, self-contained, single-tube flourescent lamp fixtures (the kind sold in hardware stores as “under cabinet lights“) wired through an exterior common switch to an appliance cord. The open top of the box has a removable cover of smooth-surface, translucent (“opaline”) glass or plastic, such as used for shower doors. Any glass shop can supply it.

In use, an art board or other base material is placed on the translucent cover, with the illumination coming from below. When pieces of copy are then placed on the base material, position marks, grids, etc. on it can be readily seen through the copy, allowing for precise positioning. The light box is a particularly valuable tool when art boards are used.

“Bone”—As copy is pasted onto mechanicals it should be “boned“ so that it adheres firmly. That is, it should be rubbed or burnished with a hard, smooth object. (In days of yore, an animal rib bone was used.) A short, soft wood lath or slat makes a good bone. Perfectly suited to the task is a short piece cut from one of those yardsticks hardware stores occasionally give away, or from the wooden paddle paint stores usually include with purchases. A wallpaper hanger’s seam rolling tool will also does a nice job.

Tweezers—invaluable for picking up pasted-down copy and repositioning it precisely; not the crude, blunt tweezers ladies use for plucking eyebrows, but the needle- pointed ones doctors use to remove splinters. Medical supply stores have them. Two pairs are better than one.

Tape—Everybody’s got Scotch tape, right? How about removable Scotch tape? Scotch brand sells it. It has the same sort of adhesive as on their little “Post-it Notes.” It may be peeled off without damage to the paper it’s stuck to; it's far superior to the old stand-by, masking tape. You’ll find endless uses for it.

Ruler—Fifteen inches, if you can find one. And make it steel. The engraved markings are precise and won’t wear off, and you can’t harm the edges while using it as a cutting knife guide.

Scissors—Don’t borrow mother’s sewing shears. They aren’t designed for paper, and you’ll only dull them. Buy good paper shears with long, slender blades.

Knife—There are endless uses for an X-ACTO knife. Get the one with the slender handle; about the diameter of a pencil. And get a generous supply of blades. Best all- around blade is the #11, the one with the narrow triangular shape ending in a needle-like point. Protect the blade (and yourself) between uses by thrusting it into a cast-off cigarette filter tip, or a small cork.

Pencils—Colored, that is: “Non-Photo Blue” for marking mechanicals; carmine red for editing copy. Forget that old story about editors “blue-penciling copy.” A strong red stands out much better. Get the Venus brand col-erase pencils with erasers, in case you need to edit your editing.

Pens—The calligraphic variety. Handy for ruling lines of various widths. (See “rules,” part 4.) The Speedball Corp., long a standard in the field of lettering instruments, makes a line of pens called Elegant Writer. They are fiber- tipped pens with firm, chisel points of various widths, and come in a limited variety of colors. (Choose black.)

Cash register tape—A trick for editors using two-column format and a garden-variety typewriter. Type your text copy on 3-7/16" or 3-5/8"-wide cash register tape (the latter may be hard to find) instead of typing paper. You’ll never have to trim the edges of your paste-up material again. Just rip four or five feet of tape from the roll, feed it into your typewriter, set the margins and go to it.

Transfer type—or “rub-on lettering.” These are micro- thin alphabet letters that may be transferred to paper from the semi-transparent material they are mounted on by placing them in the desired positions and rubbing or burnishing them through the mounting material. They are available in a wide variety of fonts—many of them “display” (decorative style)—and sizes. For bulletin headlines and sub heads, choose 16 point (5/32") to 24 point (1/4"). Larger sizes are handy for fliers, programs, etc. Larger than 24 point sizes increase in multiples of six points, each equal to an additional 1/16" in height. Buy small sheets of letters for special or one-time applications. For frequent use, buy large (10" x 13") sheets. They contain sufficient quantities of every letter for a large number of headlines or sub-heads.

Burnishing tools for transfer letters are available at some expense, but the job is done quite well with a manicuring orange stick, or a ballpoint pen that has run dry.

A major supplier of transfer type is CELLO-TAK Mfg. Co., 35 Alabama Ave., Island Park, NY 11558. Others are CHARTPAK, 1 River Road, Leeds, MA 01053 and FORMATT, Graphics Products Corp., Rolling Meadows, IL 60008. These products are available in art supplies stores and many stationery stores, or write their customer service department for a catalog and a retailer in your area.

Clip Art—The generic term for a vast array of line art supplied in books from which it may be clipped out and pasted into mechanicals. There are several major suppliers, and their collections are usually segregated into several volumes of related subjects: holidays, industrial, sports, decorative borders and frames, “old times,” the four seasons, and many others. Some books include numerous cartoons and framed witty sayings.

Major suppliers of clip art are: Dover Publications, Inc., 21 E. 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501 (ask for their “Clip Art Sampler” catalog), Clip-Art Company, 18 Chabot Drive, Citrus Heights, CA 95621, and “Graphic Source Clip Art” supplied by Graphics Products Corp., Wheeling, IL 60090. Clip art handy hint: don’t clip out the art pieces. Make a photocopy of the desired piece and crop it to fit your page.

Paper—Buy in quantity and buy cheap. If your major use is letter-size paper, buy it from one of your local copy shops. The paper they use in their machines should be available by the ream for $3 to $5. During preliminary stages of your work, save the waste copies and use the other sides. If you’re computerized, and use a tractor-feed printer, buy 20- pound paper in the continuous fold, laser- perforated (letter- edge) 2,500 sheet boxes.

Be aware that not all white paper is exactly white. Inexpensive white paper, especially recycled paper, is not quite white. Use the cheap stuff for preliminary work, then for the final mechanicals bound for the printer, switch to a “brilliant” white paper. Those papers using the word “laser” in their description are measurably whiter than run-of-the-mill copy paper, and have a slightly glossy finish. Your copy will appear much brighter and cleaner to the printing process on very white paper. The cost for laser paper is about $8.00 per ream.

Morgue—In newspaper lingo, a reference file of back issues, photos, clippings and what-have-you. Every bulletin editor should have one. Those little seasonal artwork clips from newspaper ads—found too late for this year’s bulletin—can be filed in the morgue for next year. (Hint: newsprint darkens rapidly with age. Photocopy the fresh clips and save the copies.)

File personal profiles and stories about chapter members. You may someday have to write an obituary. (Hence the name “morgue file.”) File useful stories from other bulletins, cartoons, quotes, jokes, pithy sayings, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Establish categories. Be sure to note sources so you can give credit when they are used. Keep in separate folders or envelopes to minimize morgue searches.

Boiler plate—For this discussion, boiler plate is defined as those portions of your bulletin that appear the same in every issue. Some examples are the nameplate that appears at the top of page one and identifies the bulletin, the chapter, etc. Then there’s the mashead: the list of chapter officials. Other examples might include the bit of graphic art atop your activity claendar; the mailing address portion of your back page; standard headers or footers that appear on every inside page.

You can add pizzazz to your bulletin by having the boiler plate printed in color—often at no additional cost. Many print shops offer “free color” days. On Mondays you can have your job printed in blue at no extra charge. Tuesdays are red, and so forth.

Estimate the amount of paper you’ll need for the next half- dozen issues, add ten percent for spoilage and extra runs and have your boiler plate printed in advance. Then, each month, you simply have the bulletin printed with black ink on the pre-printed paper stock from your supply and you have a snappy two-color bulletin.

Pages with fixed, repetitive information are sometimes called “style sheets.” If they occur in your bulletin, make 100 copies, then bring them out as each issue is being assembled. Naturally, the boiler plate must always appear in the same location on the appropriate style sheet.


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