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Thu, 17 Dec 2009 22:45:57 GMT

Get your publication prepped for a printer

Businesses wanting to have materials printed by a commercial printer need to prepare it carefully and talk with the commercial printer about their needs before letting the printing press fly.

Today's publishing software lets you design your own professional- looking brochures, flyers, letterhead, and other printed material.

This do-it-yourself approach helps you avoid the expense of using a design firm or service bureau.

However, in some cases you may want to hire a professional to do the actual printing. Desktop printing equipment in your office might be adequate for producing draft copies or small print jobs, but you will likely want a commercial printer for high-quality and high-volume printing intended to impress customers.

But printing to a desktop printer is very different than using a printing service and there are an array of issues you need to consider.

Here are the basic steps to follow to get a publication ready for a professional printer.

1. Talk with your printer before you start preparations 2. Decide how you will use colour 3. Design and review your publication 4. Save your publication as a PostScript file or PDF 5. Print and carefully review and proofread colour separations and composite proofs 6. Deliver proofs and files to a commercial printing service

Here are all the steps in more detail:

1. Talk with your printer before you start preparations

Contact your commercial print shop before you actually start your design work. This can help you save time and money later. Understand that, when working with a commercial printer, you need to deliver more than just the document file that you produced with your publishing software. You also need to deliver the graphic files and fonts used in the publication. You will want to discuss the following:
- Whether your publication will include scanned pictures, and if the printer can scan them if you aren't able to.
- Project quantity, quality, paper stock, binding, folding, trimming, costs, and deadlines.
- Recommendations for how you can save money. For instance, the printer can tell you which paper stock and colours cost more than others.

2. Decide how you will use colour

If you intend to use colour, set up your publication for the type of colour printing you want. Select one of these options:
- Process colours (CMYK). In process-colour printing, four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) are mixed together to simulate a full range of colours. If you are including colour photography in your project, you need to use process colour printing. Using process colour is typically more expensive than spot-colour printing.
- Spot colours. In spot-colour printing, one or two inks are used to print solid colours or tints of the colours. Use spot colour if you need to reproduce a specific colour.
- Process colours plus spot colours. In process-colour printing plus spot colour, additional inks can be used if a specific colour needed in the publication falls outside the process colour gamut. For example, a specific colour for a logo might require additional spot colour.

If you use Microsoft Office Publisher, you can set up your publication by clicking Tools, Commercial Printing Tools, and Colour Printing.

3. Design and review your publication

Microsoft Office Publisher provides design templates you can use and modify to get started, or you can design the entire project youself.
Follow these design tips to help ensure a successful print job:
- Use only a few standard fonts to make your publication look more professional. Using standard fonts also reduces the possibility that another font will be substituted for the one you chose when the publication is opened on the printer's computer. (If a publication contains fonts that are not on the computer that opens the publication nor embedded in the publication, the Windows operating system provides default substitutes for the missing fonts.) - Choose spot colours from a colour matching system, such as Pantone, and process colours from colour-matching charts supported by your printing service. Don't rely on the colours you see on your monitor. Publisher
2007 now includes a Pantone tab to help you get the right colour.
- Use the spell checker and proofread your publication carefully.
Making changes after handing off your publication to a commercial printer can be very costly.
- With Publisher, use the Graphics Manager and Design Manager to find and correct any problems.

4. Save your publication as a PostScript file or PDF

A printer may accept a Publisher (.pub) file, but you will generally save on printing costs and get work done faster if you deliver your files as PostScript or PDF files. The PDF format in particular is widely adopted and preferred by the printing industry. When you save a publication as a PostScript file, a commercial printer can use special software to create a PDF.
- To prepare your publication as a PostScript file in Publisher 2003, click Save As on the File menu, then click PostScript in the Save as type list.
- If you are using Publisher 2007, click Save As on the File menu, then click PDF in the Save as type list. Also, the Pack and Go feature in Publisher 2007 can automatically export the publication as a PDF.

5. Print and review colour separations and composite proofs

Before taking your publication to a printing service, print and review colour separation and composite proofs on your office printer. To do so in Publisher, click File, Print, and then the Advanced Print Settings button. On the Separations tab, select from the options in the Output box.
- By printing colour separations you break out the component colours in your publication to show where individual colours are applied.
- By printing a composite, you combine all colours, text, and graphics onto a single printed sheet for proofing colour and graphics. Print a CMYK composite to get a better representation of how the colours will look once they are printed on a press.
- Review each page carefully to verify that the colours are separated correctly.
- Check for missing graphics and unwanted font substitutions.

If you want to make changes to your file, you will need to do it in your original publication and then save it again as a PostScript or PDF file.

6. Deliver proofs and files to a commercial printing service

You can deliver your publication to a commercial printing service in three ways:
- Deliver the files on a disk. Include any fonts and linked images that you used in the publication. The Pack and Go feature with Publisher is specifically designed to bundle all the elements for a commercial printer. Give the printing service the Pack and Go files that you saved to a disk, along with the colour separation and composite proofs.
- Deliver a master copy. You can give your printing service a high- resolution black and white laser printout of either a black and white or colour publication to use as a master copy. Clarify any instructions you have about how you want the job printed.
- Deliver the files electronically. This can be done over the Internet, using e-mail or other methods of electronic file transfer.
Check with your commercial print service to see what process they use for electronic submittals.

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