Manual & Handbook Printing: Three Questions Every Business Should Ask
The purpose of any Manual or Handbook is to provide reference and guidance. Most businesses and organizations print manuals and handbooks to address a variety of specific needs, such as…
> Training, Instruction and User Manuals
> Employee and Company Handbooks
> Repair, Maintenance and Technical Manuals
> Equipment, Assembly and Operator Handbooks
> Policy and Procedure Manuals
> Reference Manuals and Field Guides
As a long-time printer of business manuals and related documents, I wanted to pass along three quick questions to ask yourself before you print your next manual.
Thinking about the answers to these three questions may reveal ways you could a) improve the function of your manual and b) save some money in the process.
1) Is Color Really Necessary?
Color is ideal for printed matter that serves a promotional purpose, but most manuals and handbooks are strictly informational in nature, not promotional.
Also, many manuals and handbooks are only used within an organization - they are not seen by customers. For this reason, most - if not all - pages of a manual can often be produced with black ink on white paper. This will substantially reduce the printing cost of the manual.
However, if the use of color proves more beneficial than grayscale to clarify illustrations, or add necessary details to photos, then I am all for it. But as a general cost-saving rule, I typically recommend that color be used sparingly in manuals, handbooks and other non-promotional pieces.
2) What is the Frequency of Use?
Having an idea about the amount of handling a manual will see over its life helps determine the weight of paper to use for the pages and cover. This is important because, as you would expect, thicker paper costs more than thinner paper.
Many manuals, such as product assembly manuals, might just be referred to once or twice and then filed away or discarded. So on manuals with a relatively short duty cycle, it makes sense to print the cover and pages on light weight paper to save money.
Conversely, if a manual - such as a reference manual or tech manual - is shared by many people within an organization and/or is referred to frequently, the cover and pages should be constructed of heavier weight paper to withstand the rigors associated with frequent use. This is just common business sense to avoid reprinting these manuals prematurely.
In addition, some manuals - like repair manuals or field guides - might need to be used in dirty, oily or damp conditions. In these cases, it is recommended that the cover and pages be coated with a clear plastic laminate. This protective lamination greatly prolongs the life of manuals used under rugged conditions.
3) Which Binding Style Best Suits My Needs?
The binding style recommended for your particular manual will depend on several factors. For example, if your manual has a relatively high page count - like a software manual - then the Perfect Binding method is generally used. But if your manual has a relatively low page count - say 64 pages or less - it could very likely be bound with the more economical Saddle Stitch method.
And if the page count is extremely low - like an 8-page instruction manual - the information could be printed on one large sheet and then folded into separate panels. This would completely eliminate the need to bind separate pages together.
Furthermore, if the content in your manual might change periodically and you predict the need to swap out pages - like a policy handbook or operation manual - then a 3-Ring Binder is often used. This is because ringed binders provide a simple way to add or remove pages. Plus, tabbed inserts are easy to place into ringed binders to allow for quick and efficient indexing.
The Spiral Binding method, also known as Coil Binding, is another popular method used to create manuals - particularly maintenance and repair manuals. This is because a spiral bound manual can lie completely flat in the open position, allowing both hands to remain free while the user refers to the manual.
Whatever type of manual, handbook, guide or reference book your business or organization may need, Formax Printing Solutions can simplify the entire printing process for you. And if you're looking for ways to save money on printing, give Formax a call when your next project arises.
Take care! Keith