What is a Pocket Program?
The Pocket Program (a.k.a. Pocket Programme or "Read Me") is designed to be a quick and portable guide to events at a convention, and often contains other useful information for the convention attendee. This information may include a map of the hotel, opening times for displays and exhibits, hotel check-in and check-out times, details of local restaurants etc.
Saddlestitched pocket programs beyond about 64 pages require using thin (50# text / 20# bond) paper in order to fold properly. Pocket programs beyond 96 pages will not fold with any paper and require more expensive wire (spiral) binding.
Pocket programs beyond 4" wide are hard to fit in a pocket. Pocket programs beyond 10" tall will tend to fall out of pockets (if they fit in width-wise).
Pocket Program Contents
The following information has been extracted from far too few online sources plus personal experience
- Location, including address suitable for showing to cab driver when trying to get back from restaurant after too many cocktails!
- Phone number (for emergencies, so Ops/Comms/Hotel Front Desk)
- Who/how to contact if you have a problem at the con (e.g. Ops)
- Committee names/roles (so you know who hotel liaison is)
- What the ops room is and what sort of problems it can deal with (lost property, lost children, snakes on a con etc.)
- How to recognise the DCM
A programme grid should be included unless this is being provided separately.
There are two main views on Program Grids
- organised as Room Across, Time Down
- organised as Time Across, Room Down
The advantage of Room Across Time Down is particularly evident with smaller conventions (few rooms) or for conventions with many Time Slots per day. The text for the name of a Program Item is horizontal, so it benefits from having wide slots to be printed in. If you divide your day into 20 or more time slots (hours or half hour slots) then the other layout only gives 1/3rd of an inch (or around 1cm) wide slots for each item name on standard Letter or A4 paper, even in landscape format.
With larger conventions, or ones with fewer time slots (e.g. six or eight 90minute slots), then the Time Across Room Down layout is perfectly acceptable.
Because of the limit on space for printing grids and fitting the text in, sometimes it is necessary to have more than one grid per day, particularly in the Time Across Room Down layout. So, for example, there may be a morning grid (8am-12noon), an afternoon grid (12noon-6pm) and an evening grid.(6pm-midnight)
Experience shows that it is easier to lay out in Room Across, but some people find it easier to read in Time Across.
One idea is to leave an extra blank "room" so people can write in parties, meal reservations, gopher shift times etc.
For the grid, consider how easy it will be to reprint with changes at the convention, and whether people will pull out the grid pages from the rest of the Pocket Program to carry around with them, and design accordingly.
The Pocket Program editor may decide to include one or more of the following: List program events by:
- day and time (and within that by room, or alphabetically by title, or by theme)
- room (and within room by day and time)
It is possible to do a Pocket Program without any of these, but consider each one. It may be that the program event descriptions are in the main Program Book and so don't need to be repeated here. It is common for larger conventions (such as Worldcons) to assign an item number to each program item, and then to list just the item numbers next to the participants on the participants list.
Some conventions have been known to show video material without getting all public performance licenses and permissions. Be aware of this if you are putting a Video Schedule on a public website, including posting up a searchable version of the Pocket Program. Some conventions just list that there is a video stream and then posting up the actual schedule on the door of the video program room, or distributing a separate Video Programme Schedule.
This can be arranged in advance, particularly if there are tournaments or other organised gaming sessions. But for many conventions the details of the Gaming Schedule are only determined at the con.
Other Scheduled Events
Any other schedules not listed under program:
- Autograph Schedule
- Local fan-run sightseeing tours
Participant Cross Reference
This section will list each guest or panelist and all of their events, with location, in chronological order. Constructing this is not a trivial undertaking, it is very hard to update in a rapidly changing environment. Most con-going members of the public will refer to it as their main resource to find their favorite guests, whereas members of the con-com are so familiar with their convention that they may not feel the urgent need to include it. Include it anyway. Computerization -- right down to at-con -- will be very useful here.
Other Time Based Information
Hours that the various departments and activities are open:
- Art Show
- Dealers/Hucksters Room
- Creche/Child care
- Con Suite
- Gopher Hole/Staff Lounge
- Chaos Costuming
- Chaos Robotics
- Green Room
Hotel Check-in and Check-out times, plus contact details for the Hotel
- Child supervision
- Party rules
- Leaflet/Flyer distribution
- Where posters and signs can be stuck up and how they should be stuck up
- Clothing requirements (no nudity in public areas, shoes must be worn in the restaurant etc.)
- Hotel Map, with matching room names to the grid/lists.
- Local Area/External Map (with walking times to major landmarks to give scale)
- Taxi company phone number
Bank machines, book shops, dentists etc. Decide on what's important for an attendee to have with them, the rest they can get from the Information Desk, venue (hotel concierge, conference center, etc.), the Yellow Pages, off the internet or by asking locals.
- Paid for commercial advertising
- Exchange ads for other conventions (or next year's con)
- Ads for program items ("Come see the Juggling Bishop at 2pm in the Main Hall!")
Anyone you want to acknowledge (commercial sponsors, Heroes of the Convention, the print shop etc.)
It's always nice if it looks good!