By Donald Samson

The purpose of this post is to offer information to those who would like to send digital files to Marcus Printing for high-end, high quality printing.

I have been in pre-press and commercial printing since 1987 and have seen dramatic changes in operations due to the use of computers. I have seen the death of paste-up and can easily predict the end of traditional stripping and platemaking as well. I work in a 25+ person shop. We are a one to six color shop with highly advanced in-house pre-press equipment. We use Macs, PCs and high end flatbed scanners with the latest publishing software. We also have direct-to-plate capabilities, which guarantees high quality impressions. We have no traditional prepress equipment (imagesetters or darkroom camera) and we are proud of it.

Let’s start with the list of do’s and don’ts for designers sending files to printers. As many times as you may have heard this list, it still remains as the most important first step in the printing process. Remember you are now part of the production team. Having missing fonts on a disc is like handing in a blank piece of paper or mechanical and asking the camera operator for good sharp type. You can always call us at (413) 534-3303 if you have any questions regarding any of these topics.

The Basics, an Overview

  1. First and foremost be compatible, be sure that the programs/applications and fonts you are using will work for your printer or service bureaus. Don’t be afraid to contact us if you’re not sure about a specific aspect of building an electronic file. This is especially important when crossing platforms: PC to Mac or Mac to PC. If you have any questions about the following items, please contact us.
  2. Create the digital document the size you expect it to be when cut down and don’t forget the bleeds, if applicable. Books should follow a normal order: Cover – page 1,2,3, etc. We will take care to impose the book for the printing press.
  3. Include all graphic files (EPS and TIFF) with your job. PICT (Mac), Windows Metafiles (WMF), GIF and JPEG are not appropriate file formats for this venue. Tell us if the pictures are FPO (For Position Only) or not. If they are only FPO, be sure to send us the pictures so they can be scanned. If your photos are in color, be sure they are in the CMYK color space, not RGB. If your images are pixel based be sure the resolution is at least 300 dpi at the physical size they are to be printed at and at least 600 dpi for line art.
  4. Send all fonts used in the document. Don’t forget the fonts hidden in imported graphic eps files.
  5. Make a mock up of the job so we can see what you expect and to check the bleeds and folds (copy should center on each panel).
  6. When doing a two or three color job, it is very important to know that the correct colors will show up on the right plates. This is detailed intensive work and requires that no periods, dashes or colors are named wrong. Color printouts look great for your clients but will not help you find those CMYK colors in your spot color job. Name all spot colors exactly the same in the drawing/painting program and in the page layout program. For example (PANTONE 249 C) not also (PANTONE 249 CVC).
  7. Let us know exactly what the file name is for your job so we can easily locate your job on your transfer media (CD’s, DVD’s, USB Flash Drives).
  8. A good trick for checking a file to see if all the elements are present on the disc you are submitting for output, is to open the file from that disc. If you are using a font management application (Suitcase, FontAgent, FontBook, etc.), reload all fonts from the media, too.
  9. Give all other relevant information on how to contact the designer and where to ship the job, etc.