Guidelines for Submitting Your Material for Placement on the MPHS Web System

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The Military Postal History Society encourages members to share their collections and research with the Society and the general public.

We heartily encourage members to provide items of interest for posting. These can include, but are not limited to:

SEE ALSO the following topics:

To make this work well for everyone involved, there have to be some guidelines, so this web page has been created to help you set up your material for world-wide viewing.

Sending Large Files

Many files you use for articles and presentations can be very large, especially if they contain many images. Of course, our hobby is very visually-oriented, and we certainly encourage images to be posted. Given the large size, you may not be able to attach them to an email message. This is especially true of PowerPoint presentation files.

There are services that allow you to transfer such large files. You set up with the service, and then upload the PowerPoint (and/or other large) files to their website. The service then provides a link that you email to the webmaster. He, in turn, requests the link in his browser, and downloads the large file. Examples of such a service include Hightail and WikiSend, as well as "cloud" systems such as Google Drive and DropBox.

[Note that if you have an account with Google (including an Android phone account), you are automatically provided with storage on Google Drive for any files you want to save and/or share with others. Go to Google Drive to access and upload.]

Presentations

A presentation is assumed to be a set of slides that are shown on a screen at a club meeting, seminar, or stamp show. Typically, the author narrates the presentation, moving from slide to slide and describing the material and subject of the talk.

The usual tool used to prepare a presentation is PowerPoint (tm), a Microsoft product for Windows computers. Note, also, that the free product LibreOffice Impress can be used, and it is highly compatible with a wide variety of computers.

Since there is no "viewer" for PowerPoint on a typical website or browser, we have to convert the presentation to something that can be viewed.

We ask authors to "export" or convert their PowerPoint presentation to a Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) file. If you do not have the tools to create this, it is OK to just send the original PowerPoint file to the webmaster.

We would also like PowerPoint presentations to be exported to "web" or "HTML" format. See a short discussion on this topic.

PowerPoint files can be very large, so take a look at the discussion on how to send large files before emailing anything large to the webmaster.

Exhibit Pages

We have been able to process exhibit pages, when they are in an appropriate format. Often, most exhibitors have to hand-create, or print their exhibit pages from a computer, before adding the postal history items. In this case, it is best to scan the entire exhibit page. Take a look at the exhibits by Al Kugel to see how the pages appear. Al had his exhibit pages scanned at 300 dpi, and saved as JPG image files (also known as JPEG).

Important! before scanning any image or exhibit page for submittal for the website, please read the scanning section of this web page. Scanning is labor-intensive, but creation of computer archives, particularly of images is a now-important aspect of our hobby. If images and pages are not scanned correctly, they can be unusable.

If a word processor was used to create the verbiage for an exhibit, we can certainly use that information to create web pages (HTML files) as part of the MPHS website. If you have such files, please send them along to the webmaster as part of your exhibit submission.

Articles

Submitting an article to be published on the website is not much different than submitting to the Editor for inclusion in the Bulletin. If you have used a word processor to create the article, please send it to the webmaster. If your word processor file is large (more than, say 4 megabytes), please follow the suggestions in the 'Sending Large Files' Section.

Alternatively, it is not difficult to send an article in a very simple form:

  1. Text
  2. Images

Please provide the text as plain-text or using a typical word-processor, such as Microsoft Word (tm). Please indicate the text for a particular chapter or section by numbering them from 1.

The length of an article is not an issue: a single page with a single image is more than acceptable.

Of course, an article is much more interesting when there are illustrations. Please supply good scans of the material to be displayed. Usually these scans are formatted as JPG files. Don't worry about sizing them, the webmaster for MPHS will resize them as needed. Please indicate in the text where each image(s) should appear.

Images are displayed as smaller "thumbnails" embedded in the final web pages. When the user clicks on an image, a popup window will appear with the larger version of the image.

If your article is more extensive, it is a good idea to supply a "Table of Contents", that can be integrated into the web page.

Postal History Items

Sometimes, you just have a scan of a cover, card, or letter. Perhaps you don't know much about it, or only have a little bit to say. In that case, send it just as if you were submitting an article for publication. Those guidelines apply for a single item, just as much as for a multi-page article.

Scanning Guidelines

This section is appropriate to all images that are scanned for web use, including exhibit pages. It gets a bit technical, but be warned: if postal history items and/or exhibit pages are not scanned correctly, they can be useless to the process of publication, as well as useless to future archivists.

Regarding scanning entire exhibit pages, do take a look at the exhibits by Al Kugel to see how it looks. He had his exhibit pages scanned at 300 dpi, and saved as JPG image files. Don't know what that means? Read on.

We must state right now: we do NOT recommend scanning exhibit pages or postal history items directly into PDF format, as there may be a severe loss of image quality. In addition, it is worth carefully setting up the scanning software you (or your assistant) uses to ensure that the JPG quality is high enough for postal history items. And, what is "high enough"? Keep reading...

JPG Quality Settings

This is a discussion of JPG "quality" settings, and it is very important to the preservation of postal history material. When you save any image (by scanning or otherwise), many computer tools save in the JPG format. This format was devised to handle photographs on the web, and it does a fine job. However, postal history items are not photos, and there is usually important detail in our images that needs to be retained.

JPG is a "lossy" format. That is, information is removed to make the image smaller for internet use. Once removed, that information can never be brought back. For many photographs, the human eye does not detect this removal of detail. However, as postal history collectors, we often want to "zoom in" on an item to see markings and manuscript detail.

JPG Compression Examples

It may be easier to explain with examples:

cover

A cover image saved with high compression (loss) doesn't look so bad, until you look closer for detail.

cover

Looking at the detailed close-up of the cover image, you can see that the lettering on the cover becomes blotchy and surrounded by odd "haloes". The rest of the cover appears as blocks of color with no detail inside.

Contrast this with the photo of the lovely hula dancer:

hula dancer

The hula dancer image with high compression (loss).

Our eye sees the woman and we think that we can see a great deal of detail that is not really there.

hula dancer

A detailed close-up of the hula dancer image reveals the same "blotches" of color as the cover image, but our eye accepts those as part of her arm, and we even "see" details in her face that aren't actually present.

Quality Number

JPG files have a "quality number" associated with how much information is lost, when the file is saved. This number runs from 1 to 100, with 100 being the maximum retained information, and 1 being very bad. The extreme examples shown above were saved with quality 20, which is far too low for our needs. Quality 75 is often used as a compromise and appears to be acceptable for our needs. Ideally, the higher the number the less information is lost. For photos posted to websites like Flickr.com, the general opinion is to use level 85.

In actual usage, archivists have very strong guidelines about how items are scanned for permanent storage. These guidelines include using a storage format that has NO LOSS at all, such as TIF (no compression). They will probably reject archival material saved as JPG. They also recommend a DPI of 2400. Oh yes, now we were going to talk about DPI (or pixels per inch).

Pixels Per Inch

In addition to the statement above about Al Kugel's exhibit pages, you may have also seen references to "dots per inch" (DPI) or "pixels per inch" (PPI), in regards to image scanning. The concept originated with the display of pictures in the commercial printing process. So, many discussions about the pixel density of images are oriented towards the printed page.

For our purposes, we consider the number of pixels per inch, when an item of postal history is scanned into a computer. When such a scan is saved in lossless format (TIF, PNG), or, if necessary, as high-quality JPG, it should retain the detail appropriate to the setting of the scanner, and scanning software.

For many postal history items, 300 pixels per inch should handle most markings. That is, the smallest detail of interest should still be seen when enlarged. An example might be the comma or period in a machine cancellation dial. If the scanning resolution is set too low, such as 72 pixels per inch, this detail may be lost, and will not be useful in the final image (regardless of the format used to save the image).

As usual, examples seem to work better. The following are scans taken of machine cancel dials. They are sized to the dial, so that the scanned area is roughly the same in all example images. Compare the detail you can see, as the resolution (pixels per inch) is varied:

cover

Dial scanned at 72 dpi (PPI)

cover

Similar dial scanned at 300 dpi (PPI)

cover

Similar dial scanned at 600 dpi (PPI)

The 600 dpi seems quite superior, and will produce useful images when viewed as a web page, or embedded in an exhibit or presentation. You can even see the envelope paper pattern. Yes, the period in the dial is visible in all 3 images, but that feature of the postal marking becomes increasingly useful as the resolution increases.

Note that archivists want scans of historical material to be at 2400 dpi (!) and in lossless (TIF) format. The only problem with such scans is the size of the files they produce. For instance a single scan of a postal history item at 2400 dpi and TIF format, is 63 megabytes. That is the computer storage (usually a disk) required to hold that single image. On the other hand, the 300 dpi scan of a page from Al Kugel's exhibit, saved as JPG (quality 75) is a "mere" 8 megabytes. Note that when these images are posted to the website, they may receive additional alteration. Be assured, every image is reviewed to ensure that it looks right on the webpage.

Re-Processing of Images

It is NOT RECOMMENDED that you save a file in JPG format for subsequent re-processing. For instance, if you use an image-processing program, such as PhotoShop, to read, process, and save a JPG file repeatedly, the image will degrade each time it is saved, until it becomes useless. Intermediate images kept during processing should be stored in a lossless format, such as PNG or TIF. [Some image-processing programs allow you to save the results in their internal proprietary format, which are lossless.]

PowerPoint Export to 'Web' or HTML

We would like users of PowerPoint to also export their presentation to web-page (HTML) format. Some versions of PowerPoint allow this as a "save as" or "export" function. Newer versions of this software do not seem to allow the feature. There are various work-arounds suggested in articles posted on the internet. We only suggest this type of export, if the user is familiar with more advanced features of PowerPoint and their Windows computer system.


Graphics Formats Explained

JPG Article from Wikipedia


More About Pixels Per Inch (DPI)

DPI Information

DPI Explained at Wikipedia


More Links

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Return to Main Military Postal History Society Page


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