Solutions Partner

AffinityX's pagination services


Definitions: What do those words mean?

How does AffinityX do this work given the unusually fast turn times?

This is an area that has seen a large shift in thinking at newspapers across the globe. Traditionally, pagination was thought to be only possible within the newspaper given the raw speed and special/almost idiosyncratic nature of each pub.

Newspapers now realize that the different forms of pagination can be moved to a company like AffinityX with the right kind of knowledge transfer between the client and AffinityX.

AffinityX bolsters that knowledge transfer by staffing with highly experienced U.S.-based newspaper production/editorial managers. The AffinityX team has been onboarding newspaper clients for 10+ years and has consulted with hundreds of publications.

These experienced managers stay permanently involved with the clients to ensure consistency is maintained from year to year.

AffinityX uses many different work flow approaches based on the existing tech at the newspaper. In some cases we are using the most sophisticated customer-owned web-based work flow, in others, we use MS Word and FTP file transfer to build the newspaper. This allows AffinityX to be in a position to serve all customers, regardless of the investments they’ve made in systems.

AffinityX paginators work in exactly the same local time as its customers do, and keeps very low employee turnover, given the highly custom nature of each publication.   

We often find that newspaper managers have a hard time imagining how this can work. We thought the following article would help bridge that gap, as AffinityX has been doing this work for approximately seven years with 300+ designers and paginators. This is the fastest area of print-related growth for AffinityX as newspapers address the cost issues brought about by COVID.

Pagination Definitions:

Pagination is a general newspaper term that covers many types of page building and output. We have found that newspapers use different terminology to describe the following activities — even within the same company. We thought the following might be helpful for America’s Newspapers members so they know exactly what AffinityX does for its customers.

Affinity uses the following bolded terms as the main product offerings.

ROP Pagination:

A.K.A: Ad Stacking, Dummying and Ad Layout

Definition: The operator takes a dump or digital transfer of the display ad listings from the billing system. The AffinityX page planner/layout specialist then determines the size of each section in the newspaper based on rules and day-to-day updates from the newspaper management regarding section size, where the color positions are, and places all of the display advertising boxes onto the layout using the AffinityX client’s dummying/layout system.

The layout, once completed, is communicated to the various departments in the newspaper (Advertising, Production, Editorial) for cross checking that all of the appropriate steps were taken when configuring the sections and pages. If corrections to the layout are submitted, the paginator will make the changes, and re-output the layout file to all departments. This can often happen very close to or after deadline. Each newspaper has a range of rules and disciplines around timing for possible changes. The fewer last-minute changes, the less AffinityX time is required — with lower costs to the newspaper.

As a side task to the above ROP Pagination, another facet of this work is the actual page building. In some cases, newspapers have the same production teams placing all of the ad boxes in InDesign along with connecting the high-resolution display ads into their boxes. This is executed using plug-ins within InDesign that connect to the layout file which was exported at the end of the ROP Pagination process.

In other cases, Editorial places the advertising as part of its page building practices. This task in the workflow is sometimes not sent to Affinity due to the higher latency of working with high-resolution files over a VPN type network.

Classified Pagination:

A.K.A: Class Pag

Definition: At the booking deadline for the liner ads, a pagination operator will ingest a dump file of all classified ads (Display and Liners) which are ordered for that particular publication and run date. In most cases, no dump file is required as the Classified Pagination system is a component of the Order Entry system.

In that case, they simply log in to the software and begin pagination. Typically, the paginator will place all of the display ads first while attempting to satisfy requested positions, color positions or understood rules of that section. Once all display ads are laid out, the operator will run in all of the liners and place fillers/headers where needed.  Once all of the high-resolution display ads are connected to the section and the pages are all filled and tightened up by the operator, the pages are output to the press room or somewhere an ROP Paginator can connect the PDFs to an InDesign template for output.

Editorial Page Design:

A.K.A: Copy Desk Pagination, Editorial Pagination, Copy Flow

This task is normally completely handled in the newsroom of the newspaper.

Definition: Copy desk tasks are split up differently at many newspapers. Rather than describing all of the parts to the task involved, this definition will just document the parts of the process AffinityX supports. Once the pages have their advertising on them or are delegated as Editorial Only, the newsroom will compile all of the materials needed to build each page (photos, copy and guidelines) and then transfer the package to Affinity for building. In some cases this is not “sent” to Affinity but just set to the status of ready to build within the editorial system.  In other cases, the newsroom will package everything up and send via FTP. 

One of the requirements of Editorial Copy Flow that Affinity has, is the need for local Editorial staff to write copy to fit the space allocated. Affinity will not edit or write copy. The task is to simply make the copy fit where it was designated to be. Rounds of corrections ensure (whether through FTP or in a web-based system) where the Editorial Copy Editing staff will make changes to the pages, adjust copy length or supply additional materials/instructions back to Affinity to get the pages completed.

Note: Early on, newspaper managers could not imagine how to deliver articles with the right amount of copy to fit the news hole. It is surprising how quickly newspapers are able to change past practices and provide copy that almost always fits the news hole through tighter watching of word counts. Normally in two or three weeks.

The Affinity Team will normally transfer ownership of final pages back to the local teams to send to plating unless it has been arranged to do it directly.

Special Sections Pagination:

Definition: Special sections are built sometimes in a couple departments in the newspaper. Some are built in the features department of editorial, some are in marketing, and others are built in the ad design departments.

In any case, Affinity has tried to simplify the whole process by setting up a simple FTP transfer process whereby the local managers can determine who is best to package up all layouts, materials and instructions for the special sections team to build from.

The copy provided does not always fit the space and the team at Affinity sometimes has the permission to pull additional copy off the internet or predetermined sources to fill a section. This team is also empowered with some creative latitude to make sections that look up-to-date and pleasing. It is somewhat of a hybrid between Editorial Page Design and commercial ad building where the special sections paginator is relied upon to flow copy but to also use their creative skills.

AffinityX has also developed a variable per page cost structure for special sections. This is quite helpful, as the number of pages each month can vary quite a bit.

David Grant is founder and executive vice president advertising services and can be reached at