Pave a Smooth Path For PrePress
File Format No-Nos
Speaking of word processing programs, most printers won't accept documents formatted using WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, Excel or Publisher. The standards are venerable page layout software programs, such as Quark Xpress and PageMaker, as well as the newer InDesign.
"Over the last five years, Adobe's InDesign has emerged as the choice of those that are in the industry," said Lewis. "It combines the best of Quark and PageMaker. When a customer gives us a Word, WordPerfect or Publisher file, I know that they're not a fluent print buyer."
Green also reports problems with documents created entirely in Adobe Illustrator or Freehand. "There are layering issues when people try to do the whole document in one of those programs; that's not what they're designed for."
If such a file is created, Green suggested saving it with fonts outlined or using Adobe PDF to format the file. "I think that PDF is a real problem-solver," Green enthused.
Lewis noted that PDF can take all of the elements of a project and put them into a commercial print-friendly format. "It packages all the elements so you can RIP (Raster Image Processing) and output," he said.
Young warned, however, that PDF was not a panacea. "PDF is okay, unless it's a very elaborate file. It's not a guarantee that everything you see will go to press; some information may still drop out."
RGB vs CMYK
Printers say that's why a physical proof is so important—they strongly discourage using only electronic proofs. Hard-copy proofs ensure that the customer is happy with the color on the job, since computer screens and commercial printers use entirely different methods to produce color.
Computer monitors produce color the same way a television set does—using red, green and blue, the primary colors of light. Files produced in RGB must be converted to the ink primaries of cyan (blue) magenta (red) and yellow, plus black, or CMYK—a conversion frequently forgotten in the early days of digital prepress and a continuing headache for commercial printers.