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Extension Service


Guidelines for Educational Materials


NDSU Extension Service and N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station

October 2005


Prioritizing Printed Materials

All educational printed materials developed by NDSU Agriculture and University Extension faculty and staff for the public must follow these guidelines to meet NDSU standards, use funds efficiently, coordinate with other materials and be available through the Distribution Center.

The need of the target audience determines the priority of materials to be funded with appropriated money or the Ag Communication publications income account. Authors must define the specific target audience for the publication and assess the need for the information. Distribution beyond NDSU offices and how to market the printed material also should be considered.

All educational materials go first to the Educational Materials Coordinator in Ag Communication, Sharon Lane, 231-7883,, who catalogs the project and starts it through the process. The Educational Material Clearance Form must be filled out completely at this time. The project will not be worked on until the form is completed. The Ag Communication Director, Becky Koch, 231-7875,, is involved if financial questions arise.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Revisions and reprints, not just new pieces, go to the Educational Materials Coordinator. Materials published in print or on the Web may say Revised (date) or Reviewed and Reprinted (date). See the "Old" Materials section.
  • All printed materials will be coded on the back with the number printed and date, and have the alternative formats statement.
  • When a total of more than 1,000 copies are needed statewide, the state office should provide the printed material rather than asking counties to photocopy large quantities.

Submitting Printed Materials

All pieces of the project, including the completed Educational Materials Clearance Form, the text in Word, and the graphics and photos or at least ideas for graphics and photos, should be submitted together to the Educational Materials Coordinator before the work begins.

Send electronic files with as little formatting as possible. If you put the text in columns, insert graphics or photos, etc., the graphic designers will have to spend much more time laying it out in their software. However, you're still welcome to send along a sketch with your design ideas.

If authors provide digital photos, the photos must be shot at high resolution for the best reproduction. This is especially important if the publication is to be printed in color.

Please allow plenty of time for the project to go through the editing, layout, proofing, approval, printing, and sometimes tabbing, labeling and mailing processes. General guidelines are:

  • Newsletters - two weeks
  • Fliers and brochures - three weeks
  • One- or two-color publications 16 pages or fewer - six weeks
  • Four-color publications or those with more than 16 pages - eight weeks
  • Letterhead, business cards and enclosures - one week

Consider the following when planning your project:

  • Most projects will take less time. Major projects take more time, but Ag Communication staff will do their best to get projects completed as soon as possible. Authors must plan ahead to allow time for all the processes for a high-quality product.
  • This schedule lengthens if the author doesn't return proofs in a timely manner. Authors must sign the final approval for printing. Changes made after final approval are at the author's expense.
  • Make your best estimate for the quantity to be printed. Underestimating the demand for your printed materials can cost you more. Having to rerun your print job because you ran too few can impact the total cost of your project significantly.
  • If your timeline is tight, consider printing with black ink instead of two or more colors. Printing a two-color project takes more time.
  • Numbered publications are uploaded automatically to the Web in both html and pdf formats - pdf to provide layout and formatting, and html to provide Web accessibility.

Hints for Writing Publications

  • Avoid most formatting in the text provided to Ag Communication. Keep the copy as simple as possible. The graphic designers add the headlines, columns and other formatting.
  • If you have an idea of how the publication could be designed, send along a sketch.
  • Write as concisely as possible. This is both to focus on the content and take readers' busy schedules into consideration.
  • Have the copy as complete as possible. Editing after layout takes more time and is more inaccurate. 
  • Never create columns of information using tabs. Always use the table function.

Web-only Materials

Though a formal review process is not in place now, Web pages should be reviewed for content and editorial accuracy. Web pages should meet all guidelines at

Agriculture and University Extension units should take responsibility keep them own materials up to date. However, if Ag Communication is to make changes, the Web revisions go to the Educational Materials Coordinator, too. See the "Old" Materials section.

If edits to a Web-only publication are minor, marking the changes on a printout of the Web page is easier than in a word-processed document. However, if the changes are major enough that the document will need to be laid out again, provide the text in Word.

Web materials will have a published or revised date both on the main menu and at the bottom and top of the publication page.

The Educational Materials Coordinator will inform staff when new publications and fact sheets are on the Web, not just printed. Materials added to the Web pages also will be featured under What's New.

The Ag Communication staff will reformat the full list of educational materials on the Web by subject matter category both in alphabetical order by title and in publication numerical order.


Newsletters that are similar among counties, such as the Ag Alerts, should have a specific header that all counties use.

State newsletters should be reviewed by an editor. Newsletter authors and editors should work with the Distribution Center to use the most efficient and cost-effective mailing method.


Authors must get written permission to use quantities of text beyond fair use guidelines, photos, graphics and other resources created by someone else, even if no copyright symbol is on the material. This includes materials in print and on the Web.

The following are especially important:

  • Each non-NDSU photo must include credit in the cutline.
  • Permission must be granted by the organization that owns the material rather than the author – for example, the publisher rather than the book author or the university rather than the faculty member.
  • These permissions must be attached to the Educational Materials Clearance Form or forwarded to the Educational Materials Coordinator electronically.
  • Others may copy complete NDSU Agriculture and University Extension publications for educational purposes without requesting permission. If the publication is altered in any way or the publication is not used in its entirety but beyond fair use guidelines, permission must be requested from the NDSU Agriculture Communication director at (701) 231-7881 or rather than the author.

All publications, whether on paper or the Web, need to include the following in fine print:

This (publication, Web page, newsletter, whatever) may be copied in its entirety with no changes for educational purposes. Requests to use any portion of the document (including text, graphics or photos) should be sent to Include exactly what is requested for use and how it will be used.

Brand Names

Avoid brand names when possible by using the generic form, e.g., in-line skates instead of Rollerblades, slow cooker instead of Crockpot, facial tissue instead of Kleenex and gelatin instead of Jell-O. This eliminates the appearance of NDSU endorsing a particular product or service. But when using brand names is unavoidable, such as in publications about pesticides or recipes calling for specific products, capitalize the names and include the following statement (recommended by the NDSU general counsel):

The NDSU Extension Service does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to trade names, trademarks or service names.

Do not use the ®, ™, or SM symbols when referring to the proper name of products and services.

Peer Review

Publications should be reviewed by three individuals who are familiar with the subject matter. These may be Extension specialists or research scientists at NDSU or other institutions, industry representatives or other qualified individuals. In addition, one county Extension agent in the competency area should review items for their suitability for use in county programs, if applicable.

"Old" Materials

All Web pages should be dated with both an original date and a Reviewed and Updated date if applicable. When printed materials are revised or reprinted, Revised (date) or Reviewed and Reprinted (date) is added.

Printed materials may be used until the supply is gone if the information still is accurate. The Educational Materials Coordinator will ask faculty to review the information regularly and inform offices when printed publications are deleted from the inventory.

If the original author has left NDSU, that person's name will remain on the publication as author. However, a current staff person will review and revise the information, and that name will be added for a current contact. For example, a publication might say say:

By Laura DeHaan
Assistant Professor of Child Development, NDSU
Reviewed and revised by
Sean Brotherson
Family Science Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Information by Faculty No Longer at NDSU

Printed publications and Web pages should be reviewed by a current faculty member in that subject matter specialty for content. If the faculty member says the information is up to date and relevant, the information still will be made available. Material should say the information was reviewed (and maybe also revised) by (the current faculty member's name).

Charging for Publications

The two basic policies are:

  • Printed materials that cost less than 50 cents to print still are free single-copy publications to NDSU faculty and staff and the public. The goal is to get useful information to the target audience in the most effective and cost-efficient way.
  • Publications that cost more than 50 cents to print or require off-campus printing (typically four-process color) must be charge publications. The retail price must be at least double the cost of printing.

Retail and wholesale prices will be rounded up slightly from the actual cost in 25-cent increments. A 10 percent discount will apply to purchases of 100 copies or more. The Educational Materials Coordinator, in conjunction with the author, will determine the retail price.

Charges also will be based on the following:

  • Charge materials will be sold at the wholesale price to NDSU Agriculture and University Extension offices and retail price to the public.
  • Offices will keep the profit when they buy wholesale and sell retail.
  • Unless faculty helped pay for production (see Publications Supported by Grant or Sponsor Funding section), they must pay for all copies of charge publications that leave the Distribution Center. Faculty should not give away copies of charge publications since the policy is to charge for them.
  • Charges for printed materials must be consistent across the state, following the retail price in the catalog. However, offices can decide if they want to charge for information printed from the Web.

Ag Communication will not keep separate accounts for income on specific projects. If authors or units want to keep the profits from the sale of material, they must warehouse, market and sell it themselves.

Publications Supported with USDA and Other Federal Agency Funding

Authors must acknowledge CSREES support in the publication of any material that is based on or developed under a grant received from CSREES. This policy usually applies to all federally sponsored grants and typically is listed in the terms and conditions of the grant agreement. Federal auditors have written up other universities for failure to provide this acknowledgment. The acknowledgment should read:

This material is based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. XXXXXX.

Authors who don't know the agreement number should contact Ona Vig, 231-8528,

Also, all publications and other materials, except scientific articles or papers published in scientific journals, must contain the following statement:

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Charge Publications Supported by Grant or Sponsor Funding

Publications developed with grant or sponsor funding must include financial support for editing and layout in addition to printing.

Free copy policy:

  • Authors who pay a portion of the costs for creating and/or printing a publication will receive free copies valued at up to 90 percent (total for all authors of the publication) of their financial contribution. For example, if a publication costs $5,000 for 10,000 copies and the authors contributed $2,500, the authors are entitled to a total of 4,500 copies for their use. The money generated by the sale of the remaining 5,500 copies goes to the Ag Communication publications income account to print more materials.
  • When a grant subsidizes a publication, the sponsoring organization is entitled to a portion of the free copies made available to the authors. The authors will determine the number given to the organization.
  • If authors keep copies, they must not fill requests that should be directed to the Distribution Center.
  • Authors who create a publication but do not have a grant to help pay for the publication are entitled to 10 percent of the total number of copies printed at no cost. The limit is 10 percent, regardless of the number of authors. With this policy, authors are not penalized for use of their own work but rather benefit from bringing in money for a project. If authors want to give away more than their share of charge publications, the cost must be paid to Ag Communication and worked into their budget or a registration fee at conferences, workshops, etc.

This policy applies equally to Extension, Ag Experiment Station and other NDSU faculty who publish material through Ag Communication.

When a grant subsidizes a publication, the sponsoring organization is entitled to be acknowledged on the back or inside back cover. The wording will be:

The printing (and/or development) costs of this publication were paid in part by (organization), which had no editorial input into the content.

Money generated from sales of educational materials goes into the Ag Communication publications income account for future printing and reprinting of publications. The Ag Communication Director oversees this fund.


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Last Updated: Friday, February 20, 2009 11:54:16 AM
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