August 2003, V2#8: Production Sunday, Jan 11 2009 

Offset printing versus digital printing

When delving into the world of digital reproduction/printing, (family) historians should be sure exactly what they are paying for.  A large percentage of “digital print” that is being published is simply being produced on a digital based copy machine.  While today’s digital machines (of any type) are much better than the copy machines even 15 years ago, this format hasn’t been tested by time.  Much like any E-book format you can get today – it cannot be considered archival quality because of this.  There are some true digital printing presses – accepted and tested printing processes that receive their printable image directly from a computer rather than plate, film, or other media.  These are as archival as their printing process that has been tested over time.

March 2005, V4#3: Computer Thursday, Dec 25 2008 

A large number of genealogists are taking advantage of the resources of the internet.  Just because you can find a document or GEDCOM online today doesn’t mean it will be there (or free of charge) tomorrow or 20 years from now.  Because of this, it is a good idea to treat computer print outs for your files/archives to reduce their acid level as much as is comfortable implementing.  Here are a few tips:

  • use acid free paper

  • only print on one side

  • only run the paper through the printer once

  • if you don’t use only acid free paper, you might invest in a second printer that uses only acid free

  • when buying a new printer consider the composition of the ink it uses

  • if possible, take a “junk” print out from the printer and wet it down to test it’s water resistance – if it runs, you need to select another printer for your file copies

  • when making notations on the print outs, make sure to use archival quality ink pens (widely available, if in doubt – head for the scrapbooking section)

  • don’t use paperclips, staples, rubber bands, adhesive (unless archival and absolutely needed), post-it notes, etc.

  • store in acid free folders, etc.

  • keep temperature and humidity steady and comfortable.

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