For designers and creative professionals


Artwork for printing—and how to prepare it.
Presented here is the combined wisdom of many years in the trade. If you have any other questions or need a quick answer, give us a call!

The right tool for the job

  • What is the best software to use for printing?

    The best applications to create your job are the ones designed to do so. Create page layouts in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress.

    Our preferred method is to prepare your file as a press level pdf from a professional page layout package (not Word). Please ensure that they are supplied as single page pdfs and not set up in spreads. All pages must have at least 3mm bleed and have crop marks that are also offset by 3mm. All fonts must be embedded. The file should be in CMYK (plus spot if required) and have high resolution images. If there are alterations to be made you will need to supply a new, corrected version of the file.

    Both professional desktop publishing applications also have a file collection utility built in. InDesign has its ‘Package’ function and QuarkXpress has ‘Collect for Output’. If you are supplying native files, we strongly suggest that these be used for the collection of files and fonts before supplying them to us. Any missing linked file or font will cause a delay in your job.

    Fonts
    Please ensure the correct version of each font is supplied or embedded in your pdf. Even though some fonts from different manufacturers have the same names, they are not always exactly the same. Although the differences may only be subtle they can cause the type to reflow, making a mess of your nicely laid out page.

    Extra tools
    Illustrator is an illustration application — good for creating logos but not suited for page layout.
    Photoshop is the big daddy of the image manipulation world.

Graphic designer at work
  • Do you have any other hints and tips?

    For best results and swift processing in the prepress stage ensure all images are rotated in Photoshop before placing them in the page layout. Images should be resized in Photoshop to enable them to be placed as close as possible to 100% in the layout file. If you don’t do this, expect delays in prepress and possible degraded quality of the printed job.
    Images with too little resolution will come out pixelated and images with too much resolution can occasionally cause quality issues too.

Resolution

  • What image resolution should I use when making my project?

    It’s impossible to provide high quality printing using low quality artwork. The quality of your images determines the quality of the end result. Only high resolution, well converted images will give you a truly pleasing print job.
    Images
    As a rule of thumb, colour and greyscale images should have a resolution that is twice the screen ruling. So if you are printing at 175 lines per inch, your image effective resolution should be 350ppi.
    Effective resolution
    Effective resolution means the resolution of an image at its placed size. For example, if you place a 300ppi image at 200% size the effective resolution would be 150ppi. Line art bitmap files should be at least 600ppi.
    Terms
    Resolution naming varies from place to place. The resolution of raster images (pixel-based images such as tiffs, etc) are measured in ppi (pixels per inch) whereas dpi (dots per inch) is the unit used for an output device such as a CTP machine (ours is 2540dpi).

Document setup and bleeds

  • What are bleeds, trims and crops?

    A lot of files come through Prepress that are incorrectly set up. One common problem is, for example, when a business card is placed in the middle of an A4 layout with trim marks drawn on.
    If you want to set up a page layout file for a business card, the layout document size should be set to 90mm x 55mm at the start. The trim marks will automatically be added on the exporting of the file.
    And with regard to imposing files, please don’t. Any files that have been imposed by the designer need to be pulled apart back to single page by us to work with our workflow.
    Any element that extends to the final trim edge needs bleed extended at least 3mm past the edge of the document.

  • The trimmed size of the document is shown in green. The marks outside the page area represent the bleed and trim limits.
    The trimmed size of the document is shown in green. The extra 3mm outside the trim area is called the 'edge bleed' and allows production to cut a clean edge with a guillotine. The marks outside the page area represent the bleed and trim limits.
  • The trimmed magazine ready for distribution.
    Here is the trimmed magazine ready for distribution.
  • A typical business card setup.
    A typical business card setup. The green line shows where the card will be trimmed to size.

Binding

  • When do I need to decide which binding method to use for my project?

    You should consider the binding method that will be used for your print job before typing your first line of text.
    Is it going to be saddle stitched, or perfect/notch bound or wire bound? Each of these binding methods can have different requirements for setting up your page layout file.
    Each requires attention to the amount of pages being bound, too. It’s also a good time to think about whether you’ll be using any folds and how the binding will affect the folding process during finishing.
    Prepare carefully and you won’t end up in a potentially costly bind yourself.

  • Perfect binding
    Perfect binding is ideal for longer documents with a spine.
  • A saddle-stitched (stapled) booklet.
    A saddle-stitched (stapled) booklet.
  • Saddle stitched booklets of various sizes.
    Saddle stitched booklets of various sizes.
  • Wiro binding can be used when documents need to be laid flat.
    Wiro binding is used when documents need to be laid flat.
  • Wiro binding can also have a spine area. This is known as 'secret' wiro.
    Wiro binding can also have a spine area. This is known as 'secret' wiro.
  • Section sewn binding is used to make a book that lasts.
    Section sown binding is used to make a book that lasts.
  • A French fold cover is an economical solution.
    This French-fold cover is an economical alternative to case binding.

Paper stock

  • How is the stock I am printing on going to affect my images?

    Knowing the type of stock being used is important—for proper conversion of images and accurate colours.
    There can be a world of difference between a coated (shiny) paper stock and an uncoated (dull) paper.
    Images
    To get the best results you need to use an appropriate colour profile for the type of stock being used. If you’re undecided at the start of a project you can choose a profile that will work well with both coated and uncoated stocks.
    Colours
    Certain colours can appear very different on coated and uncoated stocks.

  • Appearance of image on coated stock.
    Appearance of image on coated stock.
  • My Image
    The same image as it appears on uncoated stock.
  • The same colours look different on different paper stocks.
    The same colours look different on different paper stocks. The uncoated paper is on the right. Each pair of swatches comprise the same CMYK ink values.

Proofreading

  • Do I really need to spell-check and proofread my work?

    It’s always a good idea to ensure that all copy in your job is correct before reaching pre-press.

    Contrary to popular belief, authors and copywriters are, at times, fallible, and, any alterations done after the first round of proofs incur a charge.
    We do spell-check your files, and nothing would make us happier than to discover we didn’t have to.

    When it comes to checking copy, prepare, or face delays and extra costs.

Proof reading text and marking up a document

File format

  • Which file formats can prepress accept?

    Typically, a press-level pdf file created by a professional layout package (not a Word file).

    In short, a high resolution, press-ready pdf created using Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress, as these are fully professional applications designed for high-end use.

    Press ready pdf specs
    If you intend sending us press-ready pdfs to work with, please ensure that they are supplied as single page pdfs and not set up in spreads.
    All pages must have at least 3mm bleed and have crop marks that are also offset by 3mm.
    All fonts must be embedded. The file should be in CMYK (plus spot colours if required) and have high resolution images.

    If there are alterations to be made you will need to supply a new, corrected version of the file.

  • Check separations, ink weights and bleeds
    Check separations, ink weights and bleeds
  • Press-ready pdfs set up as single pages
    Press-ready pdfs set up as single pages
  • Check that all fonts are embedded.
    Check that all fonts are embedded.

Delivery

  • How do I deliver my files?

    There are several ways to deliver your files to pre-press. CD, DVD, flash drive, hard drive, a download from your FTP site, email, or upload your file to Hightail (see below).
    Of course, hand delivery allows us to say a quick hello, which is always nice.

  • Should I deliver a printed (hard copy) version of work?

    We encourage our clients to supply laser prints (preferably at 100% size) for all jobs they submit. With the digital age this is not always possible.
    If you are sending files via electronic means please try to supply a pdf for viewing purposes. This is often handy as a point of reference if we need to double check and avoid a potential problem.

Deliver your files to pre-press by CD, DVD, flash drive, hard drive, a download from your FTP site, an email, or upload your file to Hightail

Viewing proofs

  • Will I be able to check and approve a job before it is printed?

    At each stage of the prepress process we ensure you’re happy with the way your job is proceeding. And proofs are the tried, true and invaluable aids in getting your approval.

    Generally, the first round of proofs supplied will consist of the following:
    High Resolution Proofs on either a coated or uncoated stock determined by which paper your job is to be printed on; and Low Resolution Content Proofs as a mock-up (for any double sided job).
    By mock-up we mean folded and trimmed as the final prints will be to ensure correct page order in the pagination process.

    After any text alterations are made, Secondary Proofs will be supplied as Low Resolution Content Proofs and/pdfs that are rasterised by our Heidelberg Prinect Workflow. If colour corrections are made it is a good idea to get new High Resolution Proofs.
    Contract proofs should be examined under standard lights D50 (5000K) as other temperatures of light will alter the true appearance of the final result.

Client at printers checking a proof before printing

Perfect results

If at any time you have questions about the Prepress process and its requirements—or about any of the print processes—we’re here to help.
Through the combination of our printing expertise and your diligence in preparation, you can expect nothing less than perfect results every time.

We hope you found these tips helpful and we look forward to working with you on your next printing project no matter how big or small.

 
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