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CD Development Guidelines

As more and more CDs are proposed to complement print publications, it is necessary to think carefully about the content and audience for the CD and whether there is a sufficient added benefit to producing a CD. Depending on the content, a CD may add value to the print publication. However, a CD does add extra cost, staff time, and production time, which affects the user by increasing the purchasing price, and may not add much additional value.

Besides the many specific issues to think about that are addressed later in these guidelines, there are three overarching questions to consider:

1. Value of the Content
How much value is there in the proposed content for the CD? Most importantly, will typical users of the CD see the value in this content?

The content on the CD should be strongly connected to the content in the print publication. A few important pieces that directly connect to a chapter or section in the print publication are much better than having everything that is remotely related. The CD should not be a repository for everything we think of or for content not quite good enough to make it into the print publication. Part of our responsibility is to filter and organize to make the content easiest to access and most useful. (We all feel the value of this some day when we look at our desks.) Ideally, a CD should showcase or include some technology that is not possible in the traditional print format. Just putting a lot of extra documents on the CD for users to print out may not be of much value to them, not to mention time-consuming for them.

2. Cost and Sales
Is it worth it to produce the CD despite the extra production costs, which may negatively affect the amount of sales?

Though many think that CDs are relatively inexpensive to produce, there are a variety of costs involved. Design and layout of the CD typically costs an average of $4,000. NCTM staff time for CD coordination and editing also contributes to the CD production costs. Finally, there are costs related to the printing of the CD and the insertion of the CD into the book (roughly $2 a book). Because of the extra personnel, production, and overhead costs associated with producing a CD, the purchasing cost of the publication will need to be adjusted to account for these costs. Is there enough extra value in the CD that users will not mind this extra cost? Or, is the extra cost likely to affect the sales of the publication?

3. Time and Energy
Is the extra time and energy required by both the authors and staff worth it?

Production of a CD in addition to the print publication requires significant extra NCTM staff time as well as additional time from the authors of the publication. Production of a CD also generally adds an additional month to the production of a book.

The following pages provide additional guidelines to think through regarding specific content that you might choose for your CD. When making these choices, start by going back to the first overarching question and considering the value of that particular content (How much value is there in the proposed content for the CD? Most importantly, will typical users of the CD see the value in this content?).

NCTM Journal Articles, Book Chapters, and Other Readings

  • Be Selective. Just because it’s in the reference list doesn’t mean it needs to be on the CD. Which ones truly build on the content of the print publication? Limit your selections to concise and particularly useful portions such as single sections or short chapters. Request an excerpt of a chapter, rather than an entire chapter, if it will serve your purpose. Think carefully about including chapters and significant content from NCTM publications that are currently being sold. (Please note that NCTM follows its own copyright guidelines for reprinting material. Selections may not exceed three articles or chapters from a journal or book, or 25 percent of a complete book or journal, whichever is less. )

  • Older Articles. For older publications (roughly before 1997), works are translated to PDF by scanning images of the pages. This can create a PDF that is visually not as clear as well as create a large file size, which may crash some machines. In these instances it is not advisable to include these articles, or to limit your selection to six pages or less. Newer articles can be translated directly to a PDF file because they already exist in accessible electronic format. For many of the older articles, NCTM also does not have permission to republish art or pictures of students in an electronic format. In these instances images must be removed or blurred. This may further detract from the article.

Applets or Other Interactive Programs

  • Be Selective. Does this applet truly enhance the publication? Is it appropriate for the intended grade level?

  • Development Costs. If the intent is for a new applet to be developed specifically for the CD, there can be significant development costs in doing this, and it may be too expensive. Developing a new applet typically starts at $2,000. NCTM sometimes purchases previously produced applets from the Shodor Education Foundation and from the Utah State Virtual Manipulatives for a little less than what it costs to produce a new applet. However, these applets are also available for free on the Internet. Existing applets from NCTM may also be used. Think carefully about how much value it is to include an applet on the CD. If the authors of the book would still like to pursue developing an applet or applets for the CD, staff needs specific details on what the applet will look like and how it will function. Applets also take time to develop, so this information should be provided as early as possible. Due to the cost and limitations on what can be done with programming, some applets may not be feasible.

  • Since technology is always rapidly changing, applets may not work on future versions of software. It is important that the CD and content on the CD function on both Mac and PC computers.


  • Be Selective. Does the video fit with the publication? Does it truly enhance the publication?

  • Permissions. Has everyone who appears on the video or their guardian completed a permissions form that allows distribution on this CD? Permissions for research project collection in general does not provide for public distribution in this format. If children are used, special care must be given to assure all permissions are secured.

  • Length. How long is the video? Thirty seconds is a long video on the computer. When showing video, shorter clips are better.

  • Production Quality. How good is the quality of the video? If the video quality is poor, this can detract from the overall publication.

Requesting Copyright Permissions for Outside Material

  • If your manuscript (book and CD-ROM) reproduces text, graphics, photos, videos, or any other material that that is the legal property of others, you must secure all permissions necessary for NCTM to reproduce the material with your work.

  • If any photos or video show children under the age of 18, permission must be secured from their parents or guardians.

  • Permissions to use copyrighted material from the Web as well as from printed materials must also be obtained if it is to be used. Because it is freely available on the Web does not change the need for permissions.

  • An NCTM journal or book may include an item that is copyrighted by another person or organization. In most instances, NCTM has obtained limited permission to use the item in that publication only. You would need to request permission from the copyright holder to reuse the item electronically

  • All Permissions should come to NCTM in writing with your manuscript. NCTM's standard permission request form (PDF- Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher required) can be used. Permission should be requested to use all copyrighted material "in any electronic format" as well as in all printed editions of the book. Securing this inclusive permission is essential.


  • Links go out of date quickly, and NCTM can only verify that the links worked at the time of production.

  • Links should be to reputable sites that offer given standards. Sites need to be reviewed so that they do not offer the user links to inappropriate content.

  • Personal Web sites should be avoided. These sites change or disappear often and with an individual in control are more likely to create problems.


  • All files on the CD should function on both a Mac and PC, or separate files for each should be included.

  • Users should be able to access the content using common applications and plug-ins. Content that requires proprietary software is discouraged.

Editing and Production

  • All CD content should be included with submissions of the print manuscript. The CD content will be edited by NCTM publications staff along with the manuscript.

We hope this information is helpful to you as you think about including a CD and potential content to be included on it. We want to make sure that what we produce is a valuable addition to the print publication. Thank you again for thinking through all of these issues. Please feel free to contact Dave Barnes, Director of Electronic Resources (, if you have questions or want to discuss your particular project.

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