15th EditionAppendix A: Design and Production—Basic Procedures and Key Terms

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One of the most important responsibilities of design and production personnel working on print publications is selecting paper. Paper comes in varying weights, sizes, shades, coatings, and degrees of opacity and smoothness, and each of these variables affects the overall appearance of a printed work. In consultation with the printer or a paper merchant, the publisher must determine which type of paper best suits a particular publication and which will print on and run through a given printing press most efficiently. Other considerations for the publisher are the cost and availability of the paper.

The choice of a trim size is heavily influenced by the fact that paper is manufactured to standard roll and sheet sizes. Because printing presses and bindery equipment are set up to accommodate these roll and sheet sizes with minimal waste of paper, publishers usually find it most economical to choose one of a handful of corresponding trim sizes for their books and journals—in the United States, these are 5½ × 8½ inches, 6 × 9 inches, 7 × 10 inches, and 8½ × 11 inches. When the special needs of a publication dictate a nonstandard trim size, the costs of both the printers labor and the paper are likely to rise.

Growing concerns about the durability of printed publications and about environmental contamination related to the paper industry also enter into the choice of paper. Publications that are printed on acid-free paper have a longer life expectancy than those that are not, and they usually carry a notice on the copyright page indicating their compliance with the durability standards of the American National Standards Institute (see 1.35). Certain types of works may be printed on recycled paper, a combination of virgin fiber and pre- and postconsumer wastepaper. The proportion of each kind of fiber required to legitimate the label recycled, however, is subject to some debate. A related issue is that the bleaching methods used to make recycled papers employ varying amounts of chlorine. An elemental chlorine-free (ECF) paper is made with a chlorine derivative that contains hazardous substances, including dioxin; a totally chlorine-free (TCF) paper is not. Publishers seeking to minimize the environmental impact of printing should keep these issues in mind when selecting paper.