Tips & Tricks

How-To Articles

Preparing art for offset printing

Software
Preparing digital files using professional graphic design software is highly recommended. Professional software such as Illustrator, InDesign, QuarkXpress, Pagemaker, Photoshop and Freehand are expensive but will save money by minimizing the often extensive modifications required with other software. Software such as Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word are not recommended for professional graphic design.

Suppling PDF Files
Suppling PDF files for print production can be a very efficient workflow. However, when preparing PDF files the responsibility of preflight and softproofing is solely that of the author. The artwork should be prepared using our “Digital File Preparation Guidelines.” All PDF’s submitted must be created using specific Distiller settings. Since PDF is a file format that is not intended to be altered, any PDF’s that do not meet the guidelines will be returned or the native files will be requested.

Page Setup
Be sure to supply digital artwork as 1up, single or multiple pages. Any extra imposition such as laying out multiple business cards on a sheet or suppling printer spreads, actually slows production in prepress. With our state-of-the-art
imposition software, 1up, single or multiple page artwork is quickly imposed to our press specifications.

Bleeds
Any artwork that needs to extend off the edge of the paper needs to have a bleed applied. When preparing the file, extend the artwork .125” beyond the trim edge. This will allow extra room during the bindery operations.

Fonts
Any fonts used in the digital files needs to be supplied with the artwork. If Type One fonts are used be sure to supply both the screen and printer files.

Resolution
Bitmap images in grayscale or CMYK image modes should have a resolution of no less than 300 ppi at final output size.

Line art images in bitmap mode should have a resolution of no less that 1200 ppi at final output size.

There is a limit to how much a bitmap image can be enlarged without looking pixelated. If a CMYK image is 1”x 1” and it is placed into a InDesign file and enlarged 400%, it now has a resolution of 75 ppi at final output size. The image will have heavy pixelation when it is printed.

Any images that do not have enough resolution cannot be corrected. The only solution is to recapture the image by rescanning, taking a new digital photo or recreating it in Photoshop at a higher resolution. Using Photoshop an image can have its resolution artificially increased, but this does not increase the quality of the image.

A good tip is to create any artwork such as line art, illustrations, text, graphs, charts, etc. in vector-based software where resolution will not be a factor.

Support Files
When creating digital art, all the images and graphics are created in Illustrator and Photoshop then placed into page-layout software. These images and graphics are linked to the page-layout software. When the artwork is printed from
the page-layout software, these links are needed for the file to print correctly. The links can be manually gathered into a folder or the collect for output or package options can be used. These options, which are included with some software, will attempt to collect all the fonts and links used in the document and copy them into one folder.

When placing any artwork into page-layout software you have the option to embed (sometimes referred to as store copy in publication) the artwork. This stores a copy of the artwork inside the page-layout document. It is not recommended to embed artwork because it causes the file size of the page-layout document to become very large and it makes it difficult to make changes to any of the embedded graphics.

Image mode
All objects that will print as CMYK must be in the CMYK image mode. Any graphics in RGB image mode must be converted to CMYK mode before printing.

Spot Colors
Any artwork that is to print as a spot color must have the same color name. For example, a document that has artwork that uses PANTONE 185 C, PANTONE 185 CV and PMS 185 in the swatch palette will separate into 3 plates. This means that the one spot color artwork is really three spot color artwork.

Be sure that any elements that are to print as spot color are not in CMYK mode. Any elements that are PANTONE 185 C (spot color) and PANTONE 185 C (CMYK mode) will look the same on the screen, however the CMYK elements will not print with the spot color elements.