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close this bookTeaching for Better Learning (WHO, 1992, 197 p.)
close this folderPart 4: Preparing teaching materials
View the documentCHAPTER 13: Initial planning
View the documentCHAPTER 14: Writing and evaluating the teaching material
View the documentCHAPTER 15: Layout and illustration
View the documentCHAPTER 16: Production and distribution of teaching materials and manuals

CHAPTER 16: Production and distribution of teaching materials and manuals

Teaching materials can be produced using very simple equipment and at very little cost. On the other hand, some manuals are very expensive to produce and require sophisticated printing machinery. The choice is yours. Some methods of producing teaching materials and manuals are described below.

16.1 Dictation

Teaching materials can be dictated by the teacher. The students simply write down what the teacher says. The disadvantages are that this method requires a lot of time and it rules out the use of diagrams. But the method is the cheapest possible in terms of the materials needed and can be used anywhere. However, dictation is not recommended because it takes up too much time.

16.2 Copying from the board

This is much the same as dictation, but allows the use of diagrams. The only resource needed is a chalkboard.

A further advantage is that the layout can be controlled to some extent, but remember that the chalkboard may not be the same shape as the page. Again, this method is not recommended because it takes up too much time.

16.3 Stencil duplicator

In this process you write on a master sheet or stencil using a special metal-tipped pen. This pen, called a stylus, removes wax from the stencil. Then you place the stencil on an inked roller and the ink is forced through the gaps in the wax onto the page.

A typewriter can be used to write on the stencil. This is generally more successful than using a stylus. However, if you wish to include diagrams, you will need to use a stylus.

It is difficult to draw pictures or diagrams, but quite possible. A stencil cutter may be available. This will allow you to prepare a high-quality stencil from a line-drawing prepared on ordinary paper.


- The costs of paper and ink are fairly low (there is no need for high quality or chemically treated paper).

- Many copies (at least 500) can be produced with no loss of quality.

The stencils can be stored for use the following year (some teachers do this quite successfully; others find that the stencils are difficult to keep in good condition).

- The quality of print is usually good.

- Electrically powered or hand-operated duplicators are available.


- Only one colour (usually black) can be printed at a time.

- The stencil duplicator is fairly expensive to buy - but much cheaper than printing machinery or photocopiers.

- Some people find stencil duplicators difficult to use.

16.4 Photocopying

The main advantage of photocopying is its convenience. Almost any original can be placed on the machine and a good quality copy produced in seconds. However, the machine is expensive to buy or rent and there are usually extra charges made for each copy. In comparison with offset printing (Section 16.6), the first few copies are usually cheaper, but a large number of copies usually cost much more.


- Generally good reproduction of printing or diagrams.
- No limit to the number of copies. The originals are easy to prepare. Easy to use.
- The copies are available immediately.


- More expensive than other methods - except for a very small number of copies.
- Poor reproduction of photographs.
- Certain colours cannot be reproduced - for example, light blue.
- Equipment requires good standard of maintenance.

16.5 Word processing and desk-top publishing

Over the past few years, computers have become very much cheaper, more reliable and easier to use. It is now possible to buy a sophisticated personal computer for not much more than a good quality typewriter.

In many countries, this means that it is now possible for training schools to purchase a personal computer. Computers can be used by training schools in a number of ways, as discussed below.

The most common use is as a word processor. When used in this way, the computer acts like a very sophisticated typewriter that can remember hundreds of pages of text. This leads to several advantages:

· If a mistake is found or a change is needed, only the change needs to be typed in. Everything that is unchanged is remembered by the computer and retyped automatically. This encourages teachers to improve handouts and teaching materials each year.

· Because it is easy to correct mistakes, teachers find it easier to type their own teaching material. They are less dependent on secretaries.

· Word processors have many other features. For example, they can be used to check the spelling of most words. They also give you much more control over typeface and layout, so documents look better and are easier to read.

The document is stored as a file in the computer. When all the corrections have been made and the layout is satisfactory, the document can be printed using a dot matrix printer (fairly cheap and reasonable quality of printing) or a laser printer (more expensive and better quality of printing).

Desk-top publishing is the name given to a more sophisticated kind of word processing. To use desk-top publishing, you need a reasonably sophisticated personal computer, a laser printer and the appropriate software. The advantages of desk-top publishing over ordinary word processing are that more sophisticated graphics can be used and there is more flexibility over the use of typefaces and layout. However, this also means that you need to have a good knowledge of layout and illustration.

At present, few training schools have the equipment for these techniques. However, the advantages of these methods, combined with steadily decreasing costs and high reliability, mean that more and more training schools will use the techniques in the future.

16.6 Offset printing

There are two main kinds of printing - offset and letterpress. Offset printing (also called lithographic or litho-printing) has many advantages over letterpress.

In offset printing, the original page or drawing is photographed to make a "printing plate". This plate is then put into the printing machine. The machine prints onto plain paper, giving a high quality at a fairly low cost. When many copies are needed or when photographs are required, this is the best method of producing teaching materials or manuals.


- High quality of reproduction.
- Very large number of copies possible.
- Cheap, especially for long print runs.
- Photographs and shaded drawings can be printed.


- The equipment is expensive.
- A trained technician is required to operate and maintain the equipment.

Summary - Choosing the method of production

The best method of production depends on the number of copies, the quality you require, and the equipment available

If you are preparing a one- or two-page handout for a few students, use the stencil duplicator Photocopying might be useful if you want to copy diagrams from a book (with the author's and publisher's permission), but this method is expensive and is rarely available If you cannot use any of these types of equipment, write your own notes and make carbon copies for the students to copy in their own time

For longer documents or a larger number of copies, you need to use the stencil duplicator or offset printing Offset printing is generally better, but if it is not available, the stencil duplicator gives satisfactory results

16.7 Proofreading

Proofreading is the process of checking the original or "proof" before it is printed. All teaching materials or manuals must be carefully proofread before they are distributed. An error in a manual could lead to injury or loss of life - so the greatest care must be taken.

Proofreading is necessary before copying the original manuscript and at a second stage if the material is printed. If the material is printed, it should be checked in the draft form before it is sent to the printers. The printer will then send proofs to you to be checked. It is essential that at both these times all errors are found. If errors are discovered later, it may be impossible to correct them and will certainly be expensive.

The worst people for proofreading the material are the people who have written it. They tend to miss errors because they know what should be there. So choose at least two other people who are thorough and careful to read the final draft or proof for you.

You must allow enough time for proofreading. If it is done in a hurry, there is much more chance of missing errors.

16.8 Distribution

If the teaching material will be used by your own students, then you can simply hand it out in the classroom. But if the material is a manual for health workers in the field, you must plan how to distribute it.

When the teaching material or manual has been printed, it must be distributed to the people you want to read it. You should not simply put the manual in the post and hope that it will be read by the health workers. If you do this, then health workers will often not even open the material or may just glance at it before putting it away on a shelf.

The best method of distribution will depend on local circumstances and the amount of time and resources available. However, you can encourage health workers to read the manual by using some of the following ideas:

· Write a letter to the health workers, explaining why the manual will be useful to them. It will help if the letter is addressed to the health workers by name and signed by their teacher or supervisor.

· Invite comments on the manual to show that you are interested in the health workers' opinions.

· Arrange a meeting where a group of health workers can discuss the manual. This may be done as an introduction to the manual or it may take place about a month after the manual is sent out.

· Arrange for supervisors to deliver the manual personally. They can then explain to the workers why the manual is useful.

· Arrange workshops in which the manual or teaching materials are used. Then allow the workers to keep the manual at the end of the workshop.

· Do anything that will encourage the health workers to open the manual and start to use it.

16.9 Summary of Part 4

A checklist is given below, summarizing the whole of Part 4. It is based on a checklist used in India by a group who produce manuals for health workers. It is aimed at people who write manuals rather than teachers who produce a few handouts. But the checklist will still be useful (even though some of the questions are unnecessary) for anyone producing any teaching material.

You should not follow this checklist rigidly. Instead, read through it and use it as a guide. Sometimes you may want to follow the stages in a slightly different order. Or you may leave out some of the stages. However, the checklist should provide a useful reminder of the stages.

Checklist for preparing and distributing manuals

1. Decide on the category of health workers for whom the manual is to be prepared.

2. Decide on the language in which the manual is to be written and whether it is to be translated into other languages.

3. Decide who is to prepare the manual: one person? a team of two or three people, with one person acting as coordinator and general editor? several contributors? In this case, one person should act as coordinator and general editor to ensure conformity of style and to assign the topics that need to be covered. Each contributor should be given a list of instructions regarding content, length of chapters, general format, etc.

4. Familiarize yourself with the health organization in which the health workers will work.

5. List the tasks that the health workers will need to be able to perform.

6. Analyse the tasks.

7. List:

- the information required to be able to do the tasks
- the skills required for carrying out the tasks the stages involved in the tasks (the sub-tasks)
- the points for health education.

8. Decide on the format of the manual

(i) Parts, chapters, sections, subsections, annexes.

(ii) Whether the manual is to be written as a series of chapters on:

- tasks
- topics
- systems of the body.

(iii) Title of the manual.

(iv) Style of writing:

- formal
- informal
- use of "you" or "the worker".

(v) Inclusion of:

- cross-sectional diagrams
- photographs
- line-drawings
- shaded drawings
- symbolic or stylized drawings
- cartoons (black and white/colour)
- flow charts
- tables.

9. Collect existing literature and documents used for education and training in the various health programmes and discuss the topics with the programme officers concerned.

10. Write or type the draft chapters:

- outline each chapter, then fill in details
- write in sequence starting with chapter 1, or start with whichever chapter is easiest.

11. Decide what illustrations need to be included in each chapter. Collect references for illustrations. Prepare diagrams, photographs, cartoons, etc. List the captions.

12. Discuss relevant chapters with programme officers and check for accuracy of facts, figures, illustrations, etc.

13. Prepare a chapter of instructions for the health workers on how to use the manual.

14. Prepare the list of contents and index.

15. Prepare the foreword and acknowledgements.

16. Read through the whole manual to check for continuity and completeness. Edit and rewrite where necessary.

17. Decide on the style for typing and give instructions to typist regarding spacing, boxes, flow charts, headings, numbering of chapters, insertion of illustrations, etc.

18. Prepare final typescript according to instructions.

19. Check typescript against original manuscript.

20. Decide on style of manual and copy-edit typescript accordingly. Pay attention to punctuation, abbreviations, numbering, typeface used for text, chapter headings, headings and subheadings, and instructions for insertion of illustrations, tables and flow charts.

21. Discuss the layout and design of the manual with a graphic designer:

- cover design and colour
- binding
- size of manual
- page format (full page or columns)
- right-side justification
- printing process (e.g. offset or letterpress)
- typeface, etc.

Clear instructions in writing regarding the style decided upon should be given to the designer as well as to the printer.

22. Decide on the number of copies to be printed, based on intended distribution. Work out costing. Obtain financial approval or aid from other sources.

23. Call for tenders. Select a printer on the basis of:

- finances available
- quality of work
- process and type of printing available
- time constraints
- convenience.

24. Send edited typescript to printer. When proofs arrive, check immediately.

Galley proofs

- compare with typescript
- read through
- mark any corrections needed
- check continuity of numbering of pages, paragraphs, etc.

Page proofs

- check that all corrections in galley proofs are made
- read through
- mark any further corrections needed.

Paste-ups/blueprints (offset) or final page proofs (letterpress)

- check that all corrections in page proofs are made

- read through

- check continuity of numbering

- make sure that text and illustrations, etc. are not broken at inappropriate points

- check page headings, including page numbers and section numbers used

- check that illustrations, flow charts and tables are in the right places and check figure numbers and captions (If offset printing or printing blocks are used, be careful to see that illustrations are not reversed or placed upside down.)

- mark corrections on paste-ups in soft pencil in the margins. Do not disfigure or dirty the paste-ups.

25. Prepare a distribution list of names and addresses of institutions and individuals, together with the number of copies to be sent to each. Check that a sufficient number of manuals is kept in stock.

26. Arrange for the receipt of printed copies and for storage and preservation from insects and rodents.

27. Arrange for packing and dispatch of the manual.

28. Decide on method of evaluating the manual.

29. Carry out evaluation of the manual, based on postal quest ionnaires, interviews, observations, tests, etc.

30. Invite comments and suggestions from health workers on ways of improving the manual.

31. Revise the manual, basing your revision on:

- results of evaluation

- comments and suggestions received up-to-date information to be supplied to workers changes in policy.


The steps listed may not be followed exactly in the sequence in which they have been arranged. This list can serve as a checklist of things to be done in preparing a manual. It is based on the experiences of people involved in preparing manuals for health workers and community health workers under the Rural Health Scheme of the Indian Government.

This checklist is reproduced with the permission of the Training Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.