When working on documents, I sometimes need to print many revisions and pass them around for team members to see. Only I often don’t want my clients to see these documents that may contain typos, inaccuracies or editorial comments. Now, I trust my team so leaking is not something I need to guard against at this level — at least reasonably. Human errors are what I’m most concerned about. Here is how I solved the problem.
Rubber Stamps (In BBEdit parlance) are a very practical means of marking documents when no alternate solution is available but, quite frankly, they often blur the layout, especially on richly formatted pages. They do however have a clear advantage: they “deface” the document just enough so that it cannot inadvertently be sent to a customer or put in a folder in a conference room, unless there is a deliberate intent to do so.
So, what would be the equivalent of Rubber Stamps when that solution, per se, is not permissible? Paper, of course. Indeed, while we often think of the paper that is used to print as a mere medium, it is the first thing we (often unconsciously) notice when getting a file.
Since most printers now have two trays (OK, eight or nine but let’s keep this simple) and allow selective printing — or since pretty much any office can afford a second printer —, we now have two kinds of paper: some nice, white paper for our customers and an ugly-colored (usually a very violent-looking pink or orange) paper for internal use.
All our internal documents are printed on the latter, making them unmistakably non-distributable. Also, should a sheet slip into a “public” pile during paper shuffling or desk cleaning, it increases the chances it will get caught before the pile itself is sent for processing and reaches a client.
Throw in a dash of AppleScripting or even Shell scripting (for most printers) and both your scripts and cron jobs can do the same, selectively using the right paper tray or machine depending on what it is they are spitting out.
As I said, not a major tip but, in our experience, one of the best workflow decisions we have made in the past weeks. Of course, since we think trees still are pretty, that internal paper is also recycled, whenever possible, and we try to print as little as we can. If only soy ink were available on consumer printers, we’d be in geek heaven.