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Customer Service: Design Tips

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In This Section

Introduction: Prepare Problem-Free Electronic Files for Printing

Fonts and Page Layout Issues

Scans and Graphic File Formats

Color, Trapping and Bleeding

Checklist for Submitting Digital Files

File Transfers and Downloads

Price Quote Request Forms


Fonts and Page Layout Issues


Most preflight headaches arise from missing fonts. To avoid potential problems we recommend that you ALWAYS include all the fonts you use to create your document on your disk or electronic file. Even though the font name may be very common, different manufacturers produce different fonts and if the fonts used are not exactly the same, there is a very strong chance that the text will re-wrap or otherwise change position. Also include fonts that were used to create a placed EPS file, for example include the font for the company logo you created in Adobe Illustrator last year and placed into your new design yesterday. You can also avoid this problem by using the "create outlines" feature in Adobe Illustrator for unique text which will not change, such as a logo.

Use type 1 PostScript fonts. TrueType Fonts are not as reliable and GX fonts are not currently a standard. Each typeface typically has two sets of files, printer fonts and screen fonts. We need both to process a file. Do not apply text attributes from within the page layout program. For instance, if you need to use a bold, italic and medium type, choose a font family that includes these different fonts. Windows/PC fonts are generally not cross platform compatible, so if it is necessary to change platforms on a document we need to know the exact description information of the fonts being used.

Page Layout Issues

Placing Images. Try to have your images placed in your page layout program at 100% size. Scaling photos from within InDesign, QuarkXPress or Pagemaker adds to imaging time, often billable, and can produce a poorer quality image. If your photo is too large, scale it down in Photoshop. If you are cropping from a larger image, crop the file in Photoshop. If your photo happens to be too small, it is often wise to rescan. A few percentage points of enlargement may be acceptable, but it can be risky. An easy way to accomplish all of these sizing issues is to use low resolution scans for position only (FPO) until you have your layout finalized.

Vector graphics (from a drawing program) can be scaled up or down without change in image quality. It is still a good idea to scale your graphics to size prior to placement in your page layout program, since scaling affects trapping and line widths. If your vector graphics need specific trapping, it should be done in your drawing program, since the page layout program will not trap within a placed EPS file.

ImpositionAssembling the components. NEWIn the past, we asked you to assemble your document at final trim size using printer spreads as opposed to reader spreads (see illustration at right). THAT HAS CHANGED. Now that we are printing computer to plate, we arrange all the pages prior to plating using an impositioning program called PREPS. PREPS automatically arranges all the pages in the document according to templates using single pages (not spreads) in page order. So, prepare your multi-page document in page order and include blank pages. You can arrange them as spreads in your page layout program to help you visualize them as they will appear in print, but they must be post scripted as single pages. It is still a good idea to include a dummy for the printer, especially for multi-page documents. Every job is a little different, and the more information we have about your job the better.

When finalizing your document, delete any extraneous items from your file. If you are changing fonts often during the design process, it is a good idea to check through the file one last time to make sure that unused fonts do not still exist in the document. Use the find and replace feature if necessary to replace stray fonts. A useful tool for Quark users, to help provide quick and trouble free output, is to use the "Collect for Output" feature under the file menu. Refer to the Quark manual for instructions on the use of this feature and how to put the information in an easy report form.

How do I save my file? The safest method is to save the file in the native format of the page layout software used. In other words, save an InDesign file as an InDesign file, or save a Quark file as a Quark file, just as if the file is going to be opened again for editing. Reason: there frequently are problems that need to be dealt with, and this way minor adjustments are more easy to make and less expensive to fix. Also, major problems can often be spotted before going to press. Note: you should always keep a backup copy of your documents.

What else do I need to include? The name and version of the page layout program used (we prefer InDesign), all fonts (screen and printer fonts even in placed EPS files) and all imported graphic files, a laser proof at 100% or indication of size of output (noting potential problems or items that warrant special attention) should be included. The more information we have, the more we can avoid problems. Visit the Checklist for a detailed listing of what to include.

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