Page Crafting & Assembly
Designing is only part of the challenge
Today's printing projects can become extremely complicated. It's your job to make sure the complication does not get in the way of efficient procedure.
- Keep your files clean and simple.
- Remove anything on the pasteboard in the final version.
- Remove all text holders, and unused objects on the pages. (We've seen many white squares on printed jobs that turned out to be a "hidden" picture block which imaged as an opaque block because the person forgot to delete it!)
- Delete everything that shouldn't print. Don't just put a patch cover over it -- these things have a way of moving or getting "sent-behind" at the most inopportune times.
- Carefully scrutinize your color palettes (or resources) and remove unused colors. If you specified a color, then changed your mind, the color is still there and can potentially image a separate piece of film in some situations. (They also make the file size larger for no reason.)
- Remove unused Style sheets, master pages and fonts from the final file
- Beware of long paths in vector files. If you autotraced line-art, shame on you... these can reap havoc on some output devices. Clean up the stray anchor points as best as you can. Some plug-ins and filter utility programs are available which remove unnecessary anchor points. Use them.
- Use the path splitting function. If you don't know how, refer to your manual or ask the printer.
Always ask yourself if there is a simpler way to do something, or if you've put something on the page which is not essential.
When you send your disk to prepress it MUST include all layout and graphic files which will be required to image the completed set of film. In many cases you will be required to send fonts or the font suitcases. You must ask your prepress vendor.
As you near completion of the project, establish a directory which will contain JUST the necessary files for the printer.
Save the final/final to that directory (or folder) and that file ONLY. Don't send multiple "versions" of a file.
- Erase the delivery disk and label it with your name, the job name, and any purchase order numbers required for your billing department. Also include your phone, and/or e-mail.
- Finalize each element, save it, then a copy of just the necessary files to the "Print" directory, and then to the delivery disk.
- Verify that your software can "find" all the necessary files. (Picture Usage command in Quark XPress or Links command in PageMaker.) Some very good plug-ins are available for this task. PreFlight is one for XPress that we highly recommend. Get it. Use it.
- If you use software that offers a "gather" facility, then use it. Make sure you understand it, and if need be, print, enlarge and post the step-by-step instructions for reference. Such utilities are "Collect for Output" in Quark XPress and "Save-as/Copy all Files" in PageMaker.
- Include a text file on the disk which lists every item required for the project including the brand and name of all fonts used in all layouts and illustrations. Make sure you include a printed version of this file attached to the purchase or print order.
- Include a font folder containing both the screen and printer fonts used for the project, ONLY if your printer requests it. Put this on the root directory of the disk.
As we mentioned before, create a complete "dummy" (hardcopy) from your Postscript laser printer or output device. Print it from the final files (contained on the disk) at 100% size, tiling if needed.
Fold, paginate, and assemble the project as the final printed version will be.
If you do not have color proofing capabilities, the use a Red (or another contrasting color) pen to indicate on the dummy where visual landmarks occur. (This includes photos to be scanned by the printer, color breaks, or other physical elements of the project which are not apparent in the B&W dummy.)
Write the following on the dummy and send it along with the disk:
- Your name, Company, File name
- Output scale percentage, screen or other film specs
- Mark each element with the desired printing color (Use color markers to color code, or colorize positions if need be.) A color dummy helps.
- Mark each graphic for FPO or RTG ("ready to go") If separate slides or photos are included for vendor scanning, then number the images. Number the corresponding slides as well, and mount them in a safe way for transportation.
- Label each photo to be scanned with its scale percentage measured from the original art (Use a calculator - key in the size you need, and divide by the size you have, and hit the = key. The resulting number will be the scale.)
- Mark any photo which requires further modification of processing like silhouette (SILO), knockout (KO), drop shadow (SHADOW) or others.
You'll probably also want the client to autograph this dummy as well. In the approval meeting, go over each mark on the dummy. If it's a high-dollar job, you may want the client to initial the markings. If there are changes, make them then require an autograph on the revised dummy.
Take One Last Look
There should be at least four "final" proof points.1. Text, copy, layout Proof. (Raw text, copy and position. copy with output from word processing files. You may circulate this first round proofs and loose graphics in the software application you used to create them. In many cases the client will provide text in a word processing file.)
2. Final Text Copy Layout (Graphics in position, final TEXT level, completed page layouts for typography and layout printed to a laser printer, and/or circulated as an Adobe Acrobat file. NO EDITABLE files should be circulated at this point.)
3. Final Dummy Proof (Just before going to the printer - final completed color proofs, fully assembled. Here you verify color separation, positioning, graphic devices, etc., using separated laser hardcopy or desktop color printer output. NO FILES at this point)
4. Color Pre-Press Final (Color proofing - final color proofs from the vendor responsible for creating the film. Changes here will be expensive)
Some projects may require one final (and expensive) step: Press proofing. But that's almost unheard of in today's world.
This multi-step proofing process should allow you to bring the publication to a press-ready state. Each level should be signed by the client! ("Client Approval" form is in the Subscribers Resource Library)
Next: The Press Proof...
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