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Planning Your Publication
Faculty & Staff Resources

Two important elements will determine the success of any publication: time and money.

Of the two, time is more important. The Office of Communications specializes in producing attractive, effective publications on a tight budget. Yet, unless sufficient time is available to devote to the project — on the part of the client as well as Communications — the effectiveness of the publication can be compromised.

Depending on the complexity of the project, it takes an average of six to eight weeks to produce a publication starting from the date we receive a client’s original manuscript to the date the publication is received from the printer. Very simple pieces may take as little as one week from start to delivery, while more complex projects could require up to five or six months to complete. If the office is not able to produce a client’s publication because of previous priority commitments, we will work with you to hire free-lance writers and designers and help supervise their work.

Services of the Office of Communications are free to college units working with state funding.

Planning

Successful publication plans start with answers to the following questions, even before you begin to write the manuscript:

  • Who is the primary audience? Undergraduates? Colleagues? Donors? Discipline specialists? The general community?
  • What is the theme of the publication, the most important message your audience needs to receive? Research results? Technical information? Details of a program’s existence? Procedures for accomplishing some task or objective?
  • What do you want the audience to do? Take notice of the program’s existence? Request further information? Take some type of action based on the information? Use the publication as a reference?
  • How much money will be allocated for the publication’s production? Be prepared to include costs of production services, photography/artwork, and mailing charges as well as costs for printing.
  • Is the publication to be "one of a kind" or one of a series? If a unit anticipates doing a series of publications in a year, this will affect budget figures, scheduling and several other steps in the design, editing, and production process. Please discuss this option with the Office of Communications at the earliest possible time.
  • How will the publication be funded? Are funds state or non-state? If non-state, does your agreement with your (research) sponsor allow funds to be used for this purpose? If state funds are to be used, be aware there may be certain restrictions on publication production (the Office of Communications and the Purchasing Office are familiar with these).
  • Where will the publication be printed? Campus Copy Center or commercial vendor? How many copies will you need? SUNY and state or Research Foundation purchasing procedures must be followed.
  • What do you want the printed piece to look like? Large format or small? How many colors? Special paper? Will it include photos or drawings? Bring samples of other materials you like.
  • How will the publication be distributed? By personal mail? Bulletin board? Self-mailer or bulk mailing? Handout? E-mail or another electronic distribution method? Some common distribution system? The U.S. Postal Service has extensive restrictions that apply to a variety of publication types and mail rates. The Office of Communications, which may be of some help in these matters, asks that you make an appointment with the head of the Mail Room to determine what restrictions apply to your publication.

This list is not definitive, but should get you thinking about the decisions you will need to make as your publication is being produced. The earlier you can answer these questions, the easier the production process will be.


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