/ #editorial team #layout 

What the Vonk!?

Four times per year, the committee ‘De Vonk’ publishes our well-beloved magazine ‘De Vonk’. Every article in the version you, the reader, receive in your mailbox has been checked at least three times along the whole process. It has been cleansed from most errors and mistakes. During the whole process, a lot of actions have to be taken and, so also a lot can go wrong. In this article, we will present you the complete process of how a ridiculous idea on a drink transforms into a published article. All the ins and outs about creating the layout will be explained in the next edition.

The Origin

Many articles originate from recurring categories. In most editions we have a column, a presidential note and a main article. During meetings, and sometimes even during one of Scintilla’s drinks, new ideas pop up. When it has been determined that an article should be published, a few things will happen. First of all, a ‘ping person’ will be determined. This is the person that is responsible that we obtain the required materials in time. Also a deadline will be set for the date on which we want to have all the material. For most cases, the committee also already determines who it would like to write the article. Lastly, also the amount of pages the article will span is set. All these specifications are written on the almighty ‘sheet’, which is shown in Figure 1 for this edition’s Vonk.

This happens for every single article that together will form that edition’s Vonk. Usually we try to plan for roughly 40-44 pages as often some articles get scrapped for whatever reason. Generally, a Vonk exists of 32-40 pages, in the unlikely event that we still lack some articles, we often write something ourselves. This also happens when the number of pages adds up to an uneven number. Logically, we then have to add something as it is not really an option to delete pages from the Vonk. In the past, this problem was way worse. Nowadays we use a technique called digital printing, but up untill 4 years ago, the Vonk was produced by a printing press, which did 8 pages at a time. This is also why we aim for 32 up to 40 pages, as in the past those were the only two practical options.


When the material for an article has been finished, it is placed on the committee storage disk of the Vonk and it will enter the workflow. There are four stages in which an article can reside:


When the committee receives the material for an article, it is placed into the folder ‘incoming’. This folder is just to collect all the material and prevent material ending up in mail folders or people’s personal hard drives. It is just placed here, it has not been processed at all yet.


During a layout evening multiple steps are to be taken before the material is ready to be processed into an article. The article needs to be checked for spelling errors. Also a check is required whether the material is complete. Often figures are missing, or the article does not have a title. It is also inconvenient when the name of the author is missing. The material is placed in this folder to prevent two people working on the same article.


When the previous step has been completed, the article is placed in ‘checked’ This means that the article is complete and properly written. In the committee, we have people who prefer to do the checking and also people who prefer doing the layout of articles. By splitting the process in this way, an article does not have to be checked by the same person that does the layout.


When somebody starts making the layout of an article, the material is first placed into completed (even though the making of the layout has not even started yet at this point). This is for two reasons: the first is that it once again prevents two persons from working on the same article at the same time. The second reason is a restriction imposed by Adobe InDesign, which is the software we use for doing the layout. When pictures are placed from disk into the article, InDesign creates a link where the resource can be found. When it is moved to a different location later, the link will no longer point towards the location of the image with an error as a result.

Fitting it all together

The process described above is followed for every article. When all the content has been transformed into articles with a neat layout, the actual Vonk can be made. This is also done in InDesign. All the individual layout files are bundled together. At this stage, also the order of the articles in the Vonk is determined. We try to keep the structure as consistent as possible over individual editions. For instance, every Vonk starts with the presidential note followed by the news (if any) and also the main article is often found at the starting pages. The Vonk is usually concluded with the datasheet and a puuzle. Whilst determining the order, the table of contents has to be created. It is important that by now all the articles are completely finished. If an article would grow or shrink pages at this stage, it is quite a pain to correct for this. When all the pieces have been fit together, the complete document is exported into a single .pdf file.