The preferred output format is PDF, preferably using the ‘PDF/X-3:2002’ or ‘Press Quality’ preset. For litho with spot colour, use ‘PDF/X-1a:2001’. We can accept native formats such as:
- Quark Xpress
- Adobe Acrobat
If using InDesign or Quark, make sure you ‘Package’ or ‘Collect for output’ respectively, to include the images and fonts. Missing images will print at very low resolution.
EPS (encapsulated PostScript) files are okay as well, but try to ensure that you maintain vector data when text is involved, especially from Photoshop.
The accepted resolution for print is 300dpi (118 per cm).
Image resolution is probably the most confusing of all. Just because an image has a high dpi (ppi) content, it does not necessarily mean that the image quality is good. A poor 72dpi image that has been resized to 300dpi in Adobe Photoshop does not magically improve the quality of the image. Resolution however is a useful guide as to the printability of an image. The more dots that are available potentially the sharper the image will be in the printed process. Recommended resolutions are:
- 300 dpi/ppi for grayscale and colour images
- 600-1200 dpi/ppi for line art images
Creating images in excess of these values will not necessarily improve the quality of the printed product, but will considerably increase the size of the PDF created. This could then impact on time spent delivering files through the internet.
If you are in any doubt about the suitability of your image, check the PDF at a size of between 150-200% in Adobe Acrobat. If you are happy with the quality of the image on screen then you may proceed to submission to press.
The most common problems identified when receiving images in PDFs are:
- Resolution of a grayscale or colour image is lower than 144 dpi
- Resolution of a line art image is lower than 600 dpi
- RGB (or other wrong colour space) is used
Please note: Images from the internet are usually unsuitable for print. We cannot guarantee the quality of artwork created in programmes such as Word and Powerpoint, as they are not desktop publishing programmes.
- RGB – Please convert to CMYK before submitting to Press
- LAB/ICC Colour – Please convert to CMYK before submitting to Press
- Index Colour – Please convert to CMYK before submitting to Press
RGB and incorrect colour spaces should be corrected before taking images into the design document. These can be converted on the fly when the PDF is made but you will have greater control if this is done prior to document assembly. It is important to setup your application to ensure that you are using the correct working space for your requirements. The following are recommended for conventional cmyk printing.
- RGB – Adobe RGB (1998)
- CMYK – Coated Fogra 39 (ISO 12647-2:2004)
If you are producing a job out of 4-colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) then all colours in your document including images MUST be converted to CMYK before producing your PDF and sending to the printer. This includes use of any colour from the Pantone swatches built into your application.
CMYK and Pantone Printing
If you require both CMYK and Pantone colours to be printed then ensure that all non required pantones in your colour pallete are converted to CMYK. This will ensure that when the files are processed for printing only the required amount of pantone plates will be produced.
Additional considerations when printing Pantone colours
Ensure that graphics containing spot colours are named consistently across all your documents and files. For example, a common error is to name a Pantone Red 032 CVC in your Adobe Illustrator file and import this graphic into QuarkXPress already using Pantone Red 032 CV. This will produce a job with two spot red colours (one for Red 032 CVC and one for Red 032 CV).
Pantone and Transparencies
Care should be taken when using transparent layers over pantone colour spaces. Correct layering procedures within the application should be followed. Generally it is better to ensure that the text based elements are on a separate layer to the graphic elements. This ensure that any undesirable results from flattening vector and bitmap layers is avoided. It is also essential to ensure that any colours underlying transparencies are correctly converted to CMYK before making the PDF if the product is to be printed in 4 colour.
At least 3mm of bleed is required if you want images to be printed to the very edge of the page. Please include crop marks.
Please embed the fonts in the output file. You can embed a ‘subset’ of the font or the entire font. If you are unable to embed it due to licensing issues, then convert the text to outlines.
There is a huge variety of fonts available to designers in order to satisfy their layout needs. Holding libraries that contain all these fonts and any variants of a typeface would be an impossible task, and the cost of maintaining such a library would be enormous. The answer is for the designer to embed the fonts within the PDF created from their artwork. This is a legitimate action if the designer has purchased the font in the first place.
Fonts are required to be embedded within a supplied PDF in order to maintain the typographical accuracy of the designers artwork. If a font is not embedded then this could lead to illegible or missing characters or words. Our preflight will flag a missing font as an error and will not allow it to pass through the system without intervention. This safety net gives the customer the ability to correct and resupply the file.
In order to avoid any issues when processing files follow these simple recommendations:
- Always set your PDF engine to error when a font cannot be embedded.
- Always embed all fonts.
- Always embed complete fonts, do not subset fonts. This ensures that all font encodings are added to the PDF and if any post PDF editing is required the font is available.
How Do I Embed
Applications such as Indesign and Quark will automatically embed fonts when using PDFX1a_200x settings. It is a requirement of the PDFX1 protocol to have fonts embedded. If using applications such as Publisher to prepare PDFs ensure that the export options in the PDF setting is set to “include all fonts”.
- Wherever possible text that is set to knockout should not be any smaller than 12pt. Any slight mis-alignment during the printing process could render this type of text to become illegible.
- Another common problem with text is setting white objects to overprint. Because the white of the type is made up from the underlying paper colour and not a printed ink, this overprint white text will result in missing type or objects. Our softproof systems will highlight this problem, but the designer can readily see this in their PDF by setting their Acrobat preferences to “show overprint”. This will replicate what will be seen on the printed sheet.
- Creating text out of 4-colours can also cause issues if the type is very small and this should be avoided wherever possible.