File format: Save drawings made in vector drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator, Freehand or Corel Draw in the EPS format if they are to be used in a desktop publishing program like QuarkXPress or PageMaker. Avoid other formats like PICT or CDR. For Illustrator, you can use .AI files for inclusion in InDesign pages.
Corel Draw lens effects and tiles: Avoid extensive use of lens effects in Corel Draw. They create big PostScript files, don’t always print as they appear on screen or won’t print at all. A possible work-around is to convert the objects that use lens effects to bitmaps. This will make them easier to RIP. The same is also true for tiles. If they aren’t converted to bitmaps, small white lines may also show up between the tiles.
EPS in EPS: Avoid EPS-nesting: never put an EPS-drawing in another EPS-drawing. Use “copy” and “paste” from one drawing to the other to create only one file.
Size: If the drawing contains bitmap images (scans,..) you should never enlarge or reduce the drawing more than 20 percent in your layout application. Enlarging it will lead to pixelization and staircasing. Reducing it too much will lead to a loss in sharpness and contrast.
Communication with your trade shop or printer
Platform issues: Select a printer that uses the same platform as you do. Converting documents from Mac to PC or vice versa can be done but leads to problems with fonts and is prone to errors.
Output form: Most companies have a form that has to be filled in for every job. Please do this properly.
Hard-copy: Always provide your trade shop or printer with a to-size printout of your document. That way the prepress operator knows what he can expect from your file. Mark last-minute changes clearly on this proof if there is no time for updated printouts.
File format: There are a number of ways in which you can exchange your document with the service bureau:
As a native file: just send your QuarkXPress, InDesign or whatever file and don’t forget to include all images and fonts.
As a PostScript file. In this case, you are responsible for the creation of the PostScript data as well as their content. The service bureau cannot easily fix any mistakes you made.
As a PDF file. This is more practical than the use of PostScript but you have to be aware of the proper procedure to create PDF files. The GWG site offers great advice on delivering proper print-ready files from a number of applications.
Using another format like TIFF/IT P1, CT/LW,…
File inclusion: If you supply native InDesign,… files to the printer, you should include all the files with your job. Don’t forget any fonts or images. Provide all fonts: maybe your service bureau has the font but it is a different type or from a different manufacturer. This can lead to text rewraps. Include instructions when you have made custom modifications to fonts. There are several pre-flight applications available on the market to make sure you provide a failure proof document. Use them.
Garbage: Do not include superfluous material. If the folder you want to send still contains some old files that you no longer need, delete them!
A copy of files: Never give a printer or trade shop the only copy of your files.
Responsibility: Never assume that anyone will do more than they are paid for. If there are typos in your files, a printer will leave them untouched unless you agreed to pay for proof-reading. The same applies for removing color casts or other corrections in the images.
FTP: compress files before sending them to a FTP-site. Incorrect FTP-settings or cross-platform issues may damage uncompressed files. ZIP and Stuffit are compression systems that everyone supports.
Label disks: Always label CDs or DVDs with your name and contact information. If it is a set of disks, number them (e.g. 1 of 4, 2 of 4,..)