Choosing Between the Electronic 
Hardcopy Versions of your Textbook 

Would you like to study Construction Blueprint Reading with a traditional hard copy textbook or an online version of the text? The text we are using includes 70 sheets of 22" x 17" blueprint drawings. The electronic and hard copy versions of the text and prints are identical in content. Review the features of the print and online texts here to help you make your decision.

Our recommendation is that you use the electronic version. Hard copy blueprints are becoming rarer all the time. In a few years, almost everyone will be using electronic blueprints exclusively due to cost issues, so you might as well get comfortable with them now. If you work at a company where electronic blueprints are common then you should opt for the electronic version of the book for this course.

Advantages of Hard CopyHard Copy of the Text

Advantages of Hard Copy

The most obvious advantage is that with the hard copy drawings you can write on them, use colored pencils on them, and lay tracing paper over them to sketch what-if scenarios. You can't do any of that with the PDF files provided with online drawings.

Manually flipping through the plans helps orient us to the project and the organization of the prints.  


The first thing blueprint readers will have to do with the hard copy drawings is to organize them.  They will come in a shrink-wrapped package individually folded. The student will have to unfold all 70 drawings and collate them into two sets of drawings. The 22" x 17" drawings are printed on both sides so it is not suggested that you staple one edge. I found that using clamps that you can buy at the office supply store will work to hold the drawings together and can be shifted to the other side when you flip the drawings over to view the project(s) on the reverse side. It took me less than 30 minutes to get the drawings organized.

Once collated and organized, you will have two sets of drawings, one with 40 sheets, the other with 30 sheets. The plans are double sided. If you travel a lot you will find it difficult to lug these drawings around with you.  Just carrying them from home to work and back again might be more trouble than you care for. 

If you lose your drawings or your 2 year old decides to get artistic and use them for coloring practice then you have a problem. You may have to purchase a 2nd set to replace the damaged sheets.

Online Version of the Textbook

Advantages to the Online Textbook and DrawingsAdvantages to the Online Textbook and Drawings

Many companies use digital blueprints daily. If your company is one of these, it may be in your best interest to choose the digital copy. The online drawings that come with our textbook are provided to students as 140 PDF files similar to the one linked below.  Those PDF files are provided in a zipped package which you can download and unzip to your own computer so you are not dependent on the Internet to view the drawings. 

Control + allows you to zoom in as far as you need. Control - zooms out. You can practice this by looking at this online blueprint file (PDF, 315KB).

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for Adobe PDF files [.pdf] - free viewer

Read the textbook and blueprints anywhere you can connect to the Internet. Here is a sample from the online book (new window) for you to test drive.

Enlarging the text and prints is very helpful. You can zoom in on details which you cannot do with the hard copy versions.

Print the images and information you want to keep as a reference.

The online drawings do not need to be collated into sets as do the hard copy drawings. I will share with students an html file I created for easier access to the projects if they are interested in using it.

Use a graphic editing program if you want to share a detail with classmates. Rather than send the entire drawing, you can just crop out the area you want and send it on.

If you handle PDF drawings at work then you should probably use PDF drawings in this class so you can  more immediately apply the skills to what you need to do in the work place.


The PDF blueprints are relatively slow to open when compared with regular web pages. You can open the entire set of drawings for a project but expect to wait a minute or two while they all load. Once loaded, you can flip through the drawings but it still isn't quite as informative as flipping through a hard copy set. You will either be looking at a small overall picture of the print or a small area the size of your screen. Either way, it isn't the same as looking at a full size blueprint.

Unless you have specialized software, you will not be able to mimic the use of colored pencils unless you print out the prints.  If you already have the software in your workplace then this can become an advantage.


Online Version

Hardcopy Version

Ease of Use Standard Standard
Able to flip through the pages Good, may take some time to set up. Best
Ease of set up Best You have to collate the drawings
Convenience Best Ok, if you don't mind lugging the drawings around
Able to mark up the drawings Ok, with software Best
Use of scale  you have to use electronic measuring tools Not to scale.
Quick access to the prints Excellent when you have access to a reliable Internet connection. Excellent
Risk of losing or damaging the drawings None A concern
Use as a future resource Access to the book  is limited to one year, however anything you can save to your computer is yours.  Yes, you can put the book on your shelf but you may never look at it again.
Ease of reading text Better with zoom features Tie
Ease at reading drawings Good with the right software Ok
Travels well Excellent Can be a lot to carry around
Searchable text Yes No
Which do we recommend? This is the way the industry is heading! Being phased out.

The final choice is yours even though we recommend the electronic version. If you are a foreign student, we suggest the online version which will eliminate the long wait for your book to arrive by mail and the problems associated with getting the book through customs.



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