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Q: What publishing software and hardware do I need to produce my publication or website?

Answer: To produce a newsletter or magazine, you'll need page design software to create your issue electronically and to combine text, artwork, and ads into a printable page format. The most popular layout programs are InDesign and Quark.Both work equally well on Mac and Windows computers, so long as you have enough memory to handle large graphics files. Quark and InDesign can also convert pages to a web-friendly, HTML format for website or email publishing, and to PDF if you want to distribute your documents that way.
Newsletters can be printed by any local commercial printer. But look for one with experience producing materials just like yours at a reasonable cost.

Magazines are printed on computer-driven printing presses. Short runs (under 30,000 copies) can be created locally. Check the local yellow pages for web offset or sheet-fed offset printers. There are about 40 companies who can print more, upwards of 30,000 copies. Find them in the Folio Magazine SuperBook directory of magazine industry suppliers.

The pages that you've produced with Quark or InDesign must be electronically converted to the proper formats for your printer's computer systems. Some printers can do this conversion for you (for a fee) and there are also pre-press vendors who can do it. An experienced magazine designer can also prepare the files properly.

And, of course, any pages created in Quark or InDesign will easily convert for online publishing.

The process can work very smoothly, but if you're a complete novice about desktop publishing technology, or if you've never used any professional-level software, or are debating whether to use a Macintosh or Windows system, then you probably need a consultant to help you get set up and going right. The good news is that a professional-grade publication can be produced by a single person working with off-the-shelf tools. The bad news is that printing magazines (and even high-quality newsletters) is far more complicated (and costly) than printing to an ink-jet on your desktop. It's best to find a publication designer. See the Consultants on our links page. And read more about launching magazines at www.magazinelaunch.com, which also lists some production and design consultants.

More Information

Our new book, Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing, has a whole chapter about printing magazines - how to find the right printer, negotiate good terms, and manage that relationship. The book also covers the editorial and design procedures in detail.

 
 

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