Digital Prepress…the most complicated part of printing for both printers and designers alike. Common Problems: missing fonts, low resolution photos, files saved and packaged incorrectly. Oh my!
The next time you design a project and submit it to your local printer, take a peek at this list and your life and your printer’s job should be much easier! It might even be cheaper because your files were submitted correctly.
When creating documents to send for digital output, please ensure that:
- The document dimensions are correct and at the right size for output.
- All images are correctly positioned and linked.
- Logos or graphics created in programs like Illustrator, have all type converted to paths or outlines.
- In your page layout program, the status of all imported pictures or links should be “ok.”
- You have only used fonts that you intended to use for output.
- All unused colors have been deleted.
- The pasteboard’s surrounding all design pages are empty.
- All document bleeds have been extended at least 1/8″ beyond the desired finished size of your project.
- All documents have been proof-read and double-checked before submission. Have a friend proof read it!
Design & Pre-Press Checklist:
- Do not use Publisher or Quark. Stick to Adobe Products for ease of use.
- Remember, Photoshop is for photos. Illustrator is for illustrations. InDesign is for Page Layout.
- Do not enlarge images beyond 120% of original size when placing it in your document.
- Do not use images downloaded from Google. Read second sections of post.
- Do not use compression methods (i.e. LZW or JPEG) on placed images for output.
- Do not use RGB images whenever possible. Convert them to CMYK.
Before submitting files, please make sure that you have included:
- All fonts required to process and print the document.
- All attached EPS and/or TIFF/JPG files.
- Final laser prints of all document pages.
Print-ready PDF files Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) is great for a multitude of uses. It has caused a revolution in printing. Everything needed for high-resolution printing can be packed into one file that can be opened and printed using Adobe’s free Reader on almost any computer. The trick is, because a PDF can be created many different ways, to create it the correct way and pack it with the essential information for high-quality digital printing or a file that can be used for make-ready, for offset printing.
Here are a few of the minimum requirements for a PDF file to be usable for high-resolution printing using a digital print process.
- All fonts used in the document should be embedded in the PDF file. The preference for “Subsetting” the fonts should be set to 100%.
- For CMYK printing, all color in the document should be CMYK. This goes for ink colors as well as photos and illustrations.
- Make sure that the photos and line art in the document do not have their resolution reduced (downsampled) when the PDF is created. Photos should retain their 300 dpi resolution.
- The compression should be fine set on “automatic” but some say “zip” is better than “jpeg” for quality. You can also choose “none” and the photos will not be compressed when the PDF is created but, this will result in a larger PDF.
If you follow these guidelines, your PDF will work for high-resolution CMYK printing. The same PDF will also work in all the processes that require less resolution as well.The term “make-ready” refers to everything done on a press to prepare for the final print job. This includes selecting the proper colors, getting the image placement correct, setting up the plates, and preparing the printer for the chosen paper size and weight. Getting everything right during make-ready helps to ensure a quality print run. This step would be considered finished when the printer is satisfied with a print, and can therefore begin the actual run.
In the Printing World, you can have your products good, fast and cheap.
Just not all three at once.
The general rule in the printing industry is that you can choose two of the three. Good and Fast? No problem. But it will not be cheap. Why you ask? If you have a need for 1,000 business cards by the end of the business day, and your files are completely wrong, you’re missing fonts, and your bleed is not set up correctly, well, we have to fix all of that, usually at the expense of jobs that did come in correctly, and on time. We have to stop everything we are doing in that given department and get your prints out perfectly, and on time. And you will pay…usually with a deposit down plus a reasonable rush fee. If a printing company is willing to do this without a rush fee, you either have sensitive information on the owner, or you are sleeping with them (or both). Either way, good and fast is expensive, and you can avoid the extra cost by going with option #2 cheap and fast.
Cheap and fast will, at times, yield unpredictable results. That grey was supposed to actually be gray and not green? Too bad. You set your files up in RGB workspace, get over it. You wanted it cheap, remember? And fast. We don’t have time to proof your card, you needed it yesterday. Transparency issue? Not my problem. Typically, printers will catch such mistakes, just because we take pride in what we do. If you look bad, so do we…But there are times when a customer wants to haggle on the price and also wants his/her/its prints in an hour. Some problems can’t be resolved in that time, we have to have time to run the prints and do post bindery, which would include cutting and boxing in this case. You can’t break the laws of physics, stop time, or make the printer run any faster by whipping it. So don’t be surprised by odd results if you go with this option. But, you can always have your last option, #3 cheap and good.