THINK BACKWARD

Every process has its constraints. For example, jpegs taken from a website, typically RGB and 72 dpi, will not work if used in a brochure intended for high-resolution, offset printing needing files to be CMYK and 300 dpi. So, before you start your project, think of the end result and the requirements for that process. If you are in doubt, ask. We are more than happy to give you the information you need for successful output. Here's a tip. If you're not sure, or if your project is going to be used for both the Web and a print, start high, it can always be made lower in resolution (downsampled) for re-purposing. This is not possible going the other direction. Once the information in the file (resolution) is gone, it's gone. There is no way to put it back for acceptable results. Make sure the project you're creating meets the requirements for the chosen output.

Print-ready PDF files

Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) is great for a multitude of uses. It 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 printing. Here are a few of the minimum requirements for a PDF file to be usable for high-resolution printing using our 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. The PDF output options should be set to "leave color unchanged".

• 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. Line art should be 1200 dpi (optimum), but no lower than 600 dpi (minimum)

• 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.

Fonts

Nothing can bring a print job to a screeching halt faster than missing or corrupt fonts. One of the best things you can do for your desktop publishing workflow is to organize, repair, and update your fonts. A font utility like FontDoctor, available for both Mac and Windows, can be a great help. It will search your hard drive for fonts, allow you to update them so newer applications can use them properly, and give you the option to move or copy them into an organized font library.

If you choose to move your fonts, remember that the Operating System, OS 9, OS X and Windows need to have certain fonts left in the font folder in the System folder for the Operating System to work correctly.

For OS 9 (Classic) these fonts are located in System Folder/Fonts. Don't move Charcoal, Chicago, Geneva or Monaco.

For OS X (10.4.x) they are located in System/Library/Fonts. Don't move Arial, Arial black, Courier.dfont, Geneva.dfont, Helvetica.dfont, Keyboard.font, LastResort.dfont, LucidaGrande.dfont, Monaco.dfont, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, Verdana or Webdings. Be aware that OS X has a couple other font folders: Library/Fonts and Users/Library/Fonts as well. The fonts in these folders can and should be removed if you want to have complete contol of your fonts. If you want to activate fonts in OS X without using a font management utility, drag them into the Library/Fonts folder. If you have them organized into folders by client or project, there is no need to take them out of their folders, OS X will recognize them inside the folders. To deactivate the fonts, drag the folder out of the Library/Fonts folder. As an added bonus, OS X will also use PC fonts. To use fonts from a PC, drag them into the same Library/Fonts folder.

On rare occasions, InDesign will not recognize a font. If this happen you can try placing the font into InDesign's own font folder, Applications/InDesign/Fonts

If you take the time to take care of your fonts, you can be assured that your job will not be held up by corrupt or missing fonts and will print correctly. When you send your job to us, make sure you include all the fonts used in the document. For postscript fonts, please remember to send both parts. For example, if you used Times Italic in your document, be sure to send the Times Italic printer font as well as the screen font. Here's a tip. When you specify a font in a document, use the actual font from the Font Menu, ie. choose Times Italic. Don't use the Style Palette in the application. It is possible to style a font, and it looks correct on the screen, but you don't even have the complete font for it to print correctly. The Style Palette makes it look correct but it may not be correct.

A note about Photoshop. You can use Photoshop to layout your project but, there is a special quirk about Photoshop 7 and fonts. If you are using Photoshop 7, be sure you have the 7.0.1 update. This corrects an obscure problem where Photoshop will rasterize font layers. When the document prints, the fonts will not be sharp and clean. Also, don't use the Style Palette in Photoshop to style a font to make it bold, italic, etc. Use the actual font. If you use the style palette, Photoshop will rasterize the font. When it prints, the actual font won't be used but rather a rasterized image of the font and it won't be sharp and clean. If you are using a newer version of Photoshop, which most of us are, this doesn't seem to be a problem.

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Below is a list of common problems we find in jobs that are submitted to us. Please check your files carefully.

  • No bleed- If you job bleeds, we need .125 inch bleed on all sides of the page on which it bleeds.
  • Spot colors- If your job is CMYK, please make sure that all the files are CMYK, not spot or RGB.
  • Low res photos- 300 dpi is the required resoution for high resolution printing. For a large-format poster it is 180 dpi. This is the output resolution. For instance, if you place a 300 dpi file then enlarge it 200 percent, it is no longer the correct output resolution.
  • Fonts- Make sure that all the fonts used in the job are included. If you submit a PDF, make sure they are embedded. Also make sure that any fonts used in any graphic support files are included with the job.
  • PDF version- If your job is CMYK, it is safe to use PDF/X-1a:2001 when you create your PDF. It makes sure your PDF meets the minimum requirements for CMYK output and will warn you if there is a problem.
  • Transparancy- Take the time to understand how the program you are using handles transparancy and how transparancy and flattening work. Good info can be found in the program's Help system.

ideas...

But, you know, those three words - I need help. If only I'd said them earlier.

–Elton John

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