What is a blueline? For those not in the printing/publishing industry, it is a proof of a publication just as it will be printed. Just a few years back, it literally was an impression of the printer's plates or film using pale blue ink on creamy coated paper stock. It always gave off a formaldehyde-like odor when I unwrapped one -- very distinctive and not unpleasant actually -- like the mimeographs of some of our school year memories. Nowadays, the "blueline" can range from a photographic full-color composite or just a black-ink laser print out -- depending on your printer's equipment and your budget. In any version, the blueline is your final, final proof prior to printing. It is your last chance to make any changes or corrections.
Beware: any changes made at this stage to the printer's proof costs $$$. I strive therefore to give the printer what I consider the final version. The only time I make changes is if I catch a serious typo or a color headline turns out muddy or unreadable. Those were the two minor changes I made to today's blueline delivery for our Nov/Dec issue before calling for printer pickup this afternoon. Once the blueline leaves my hand, there is always a few minutes of anxiety -- What did I miss? What glaring typo will pop put at me from the front page when the delivery is made? I could go over it 100 times and still miss something -- such is life, I try not to dwell on it as it is literally now "out of my hands."
On a side note: I've worked in the past with people who viewed the blueline as a fluid document. They used it as their actual proof piece -- waiting until this point to actually read through all the copy. Then asking for a 2nd or even 3rd blueline version to view these edits, which of course further delays the printing date. Maybe it is the frugal frump inside of me, but all I could see when they did this was $$$ flying out the window, not to mention the time wasted by all involved in preparing the publication and now the printer's staff putting in the corrections as well. Just all-around poor planning and a sure sign that these people are not suited for an editorial position, IMHO.
I wanted to also talk about the joy of unwrapping the blueline and the eventual printed copies. It is always so different from the version I had done in layout on the computer and printouts. Oh, all the same words and photos and page elements, but it just looks so much sharper, brighter, and better than I had envisioned. That is always a nice surprise.