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Sending Jobs to Press

Other than the printing specifications, what should you send your printer once the final corrections have been made to your print job?

Make sure you send a 100 percent to-size laser proof (from a page composition software package, not a word processor or illustration package) and a set of color breaks (to make sure all process and spot colors print as you intended). Mark the composite proof with colors, graphic information (TIFF and EPS files only, not GIF or JPEG), bleeds, pick-ups, and any other special information.

Label photos and art either "live" or "FPO" (for position only) on the composite laser proof (but don't send the FPO files). Also label all original art, keying these pieces (page 4, photo B, etc.) to the laser proof and noting either the percentage reduction or final reduced size (avoid enlarging), as well as the type of scan (TIFF or EPS).

Include a copy of your printer's prepress form, noting the fonts (PostScript, not TrueType, unless your printer accepts these), imbedded graphics, and application versions you have used. Make sure all bold type and italic type are created with bold or italic fonts (such as Helvetica Bold) and not the attribute palette (outline, shadow, bold, italic, subscript, etc.). Send all printer and screen fonts used in the job itself and in any imbedded graphics.

Label disks with the name of your organization, the name of the job, and (very important), 24/7 emergency contact information (for prepress questions that arise after hours). Include a directory of the disk as well.

Make sure all RGB colors have been converted to CMYK. Make sure colors have been specified as process (select "process separation") or spot (deselect "process separation").

Check that all bleeds are 1/8" in the application files and that objects that do not bleed are 3/16" from the trim. Make sure the job is the exact size you expect.

Don't create rule lines thinner than .25 pts. (never create "hairlines").

Make sure all photos have been scanned at 266 dpi or greater at 100 percent size (1.5 to 2 times the line screen) and cropped, rotated, and sized in the photo manipulation software (not the page composition software). The same goes for line art, which should be scanned at 900-1,200 dpi.

Finally, don't forget to send all electronic documents (logically named) and imported graphics (original graphic files).

This is a lot to do, but careful attention to detail at this point will save you money and time and avoid heartache.

Two Quick Ways to Save Money Specifying Paper

Did you know that reducing the page size of your catalog, book, or other lengthy publication can save a considerable amount of paper (and therefore a sizable amount of money), while at the same time reducing postage costs? Ask your printer and postal representative about the savings and requirements.

Also, specifying a paper one grade lower than you now use--a number 3 sheet instead of a number 2 sheet, for instance--can save a lot of money. Ask your printer for both unprinted and printed samples to make sure you like the printed results.


[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]

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