Pave a Smooth Path For PrePress
Understanding file, font and color separation issues is essential for successful commercial printing projects
COMMERCIAL printing used to be a scary term for many distributors, who shied away from learning its intricacies as long as margins on business forms were good.
But, according to a BFL&S survey conducted in 2004, distributors now report that 21.5 percent of their sales are in commercial printing, and that they have begun to learn the argot of bleeds, trapping, fonts, graphics, tiff, eps, pict, RGB and CMYK.
With computers now handling the job of traditional typsetters and graphic artists, "Putting ink on paper is still the same, but prepress has undergone drastic changes," said Chris Green, vice president of Midwest Color Graphics in Columbus, Kan.
"The computer changed everything in the mid-1990s," agreed Thomas Lewis, of Stateboro, Georgia-based Lewis Color. The learning curves were stiff and occasionally painful, but commercial printers report that prepress production has since become smoother and less arcane.
Lynda Young, marketing director at Accurate Graphics in Norwalk, Conn., stated, "Now, people are more well-versed in disc submissions. Fonts aren't normally missing anymore."
In contrast, when commercial printers first began switching over from traditional film to digital prepress, "It was a nightmare," Young said.
Find That Font
Despite greater general knowledge of prepress, issues do still remain. Printers can combat these troublesome issues with a checklist of acceptable formats and potential problems.
"Fonts, CMYK and bleeds are our biggest problems," Green said. "They are issues that have remained troublesome since the early days of digital prepress."
Until recently, most printers wouldn't accept TrueType or "bargain" fonts for word processing programs because they weren't Postscript-compatible, meaning high-end imagesetters couldn't read them properly. (Macintosh fonts were always PostScript.) Each typeface must have its printer font, as well as a screen font included with the document file—just because you can see it on the desktop screen doesn't mean that it will print. Bottom line: check first with your commercial printer to be sure that a chosen font is acceptable for their equipment.