A great looking printed piece starts with properly prepared digital files. If the files are not prepared properly, the final printed piece can suffer. Consider that if an expert chef does not begin cooking with quality ingredients, the final meal may not taste very good!
The primary programs for creating layouts for print are Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. While other programs can be used to create layouts it is still extremely important to follow some standard practices in order to provide quality files that will not slow down schedules and increase costs.
If files deviate from these standards, they may require additional prepress work and incur additional charges (someone will contact you if there is anything that needs to be changed and what it will cost for our prepress dept. to take care of it).
The document’s dimensions must be the same as the actual page size (instead of having a piece ‘floating’ on a larger document). For example, a business card whose final size will measure 3.5” by 2” must be situated on a document with the exact same dimensions, 3.5” x 2”. In most programs the document size can be found under the ‘file’ menu as either document size, page layout or page setup.
Any printed area that bleeds off of the page or sheet must be set to extend .125” beyond the document/page size. This is especially important for photos and graphics that bleed.
FONTS and GRAPHICS
When sending native files (Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress) be sure to include the fonts and all images and graphics that are used in the layout as well. Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress both have features that allows all elements to be packed together in a new folder for sending.
Resolution for images must be at least 300 PPI (pixels per inch) at the size at which they are set at in the layout. Purchased clip-art photos usually come in high resolutions. Most digital cameras can be set to take higher resolution pictures. The higher the resolution the better, however lower resolutions cannot be increased and may cause the final printed picture to appear pixelated.
When using spot colors (Pantone colors) be sure that none of the elements of the layout are set as process colors (CMYK). If, for example, a graphic made up of process colors (CMYK) is included in a layout for a two-color job, the project will separate out into six-colors for the actual printing.
RGB colors will eventually be converted to CMYK for printing. It’s best to start out with the CMYK colors to get a better impression of how things will look (keeping in mind that the monitor image will always be distinct from the printed image). Keeping the colors in CMYK saves prepress time as well because the colors will not have to be converted or adjusted.
LAYOUT FOR BOOKS
Books must be set up so that the document page sequence follows the book’s page sequence (page 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. all in sequence). We cannot accept book files set up as printer’s spreads. As with all documents, books must also be set up with the document size matching the page size.
The cover may be included in the document, in sequence with the other pages as the first page (front cover), second page (inside front cover), second-to-last page (inside back cover and the very last page (back cover). Sometimes the cover has to be a separate document for convenience (especially with a wrap-around graphic or design), this is fine.
CAN EXECUTIVE PRINTING USE PDFS FOR PRINT?
We certainly can! PDF files are preferable and should be perfect for offset or digital print if the PDF is prepared at the appropriate resolution, fonts are embedded, colors are set appropriately and the document is oversized and exhibits crop marks if bleed is involved.
...WHAT ABOUT MICROSOFT WORD AND PUBLISHER FILES?
Absolutely, as long as they adhere to the above standards. If a layout has been created in Word or Publisher, the files themselves can be sent in, or they can be exported to PDFs (PDFs are certainly preferable).
Our email can handle quite a lot, but if a file is over 2 megabytes it’s worth sending it through our website. This is very simple to do and can save email-traffic time on your side and ours.
To send large files through our website, direct your browser to www.exprint.com. On the right-hand side are four buttons, one of which is ‘Send a File,’ click this, fill out the requested info and use the button at the bottom to find and select the file to send. For very large files you can ‘Stuff’ the layout files into a single compressed document to send.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS!
If you have any questions at all about digital file preparation, please ask us! You can call us at 914-592-3200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.