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The Top Four Most Common Prepress Problems and How To Solve Them

AlphaGraphics is your local marketing communications and printing services partner. The experts at AlphaGraphics deal with thousands of print files on a monthly basis, and we have identified a few ways to help make the preparation process for printing easier on you, and us! This blog post will help you understand some of the printing jargon, common issues with creating print files, and how to solve those issues using Adobe Creative Suite. Don’t worry, if you’re using other programs, just ask, and we can help with those, too! As always, the experts at AlphaGraphics are glad to help you in any way possible, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call about any marketing or printing related questions! Here are the things we will be covering in this article:

  • Fonts
  • Color
  • Images
  • Bleeds
Don't Forget the Font Fonts are typically the most problematic issue — they get corrupted, are incomplete, they can be a mix of Postscript and TrueType, or they can go missing entirely. To ensure that your print job maintains the proper spacing, and the font looks the same as when you submitted the order, you need to embed, outline, or include the fonts. Another font issue can occur when you stylize a font (e.g., Futura) to be “bold” from the Style Menu rather than actually selecting the font file “Futura Bold” (assuming you have the actual font file). There are so many different fonts out there that the likelihood of your printer having the exact font and font version that you used is slim to none. So unless you are ok with having all of the text as Helvetica, embed your fonts.  What’s Your Favorite Color? When designing for print, there is a specific color setting with which a document should be created. This setting is called CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (known as Black). This term is used for the four-color printing process, in which layers of color build specific colors in digital presses.} {Oftentimes, we will come across documents that are created in RBG color mode (red, green, blue and used primarily for web). These colors can be converted to CMYK, but colors that aren’t converted will likely look nothing like what the designer had intended. When dealing with specific PMS colors, or Pantone Matching System colors, there are also specific ways to incorporate these into your document.  Spot color is the process in which a very specific color is mixed and printed.  Most often, there are only one or two spot colors per document. To create a document with spot colors, you must create or add a swatch of the PMS color you’re using to ensure the document contains the necessary information for your printer. Make sure if you are creating a spot color project, to set your colors to ‘spot’ and not ‘process’ color. Likewise with process color projects, make sure the settings are ‘process’ and not ‘spot’. Picture This… Images can be problematic if they are low-resolution, defined as RGB, or just flat out missing. Images include any photos, logos, or any non-type components. For best print quality, image resolution should be 300 dpi (dots per inch) in the selected size or higher, in order to keep the photo from appearing blurry or pixilated when printed.  The images in your document should be defined as CMYK or spot color, rather than RGB. Missing images in print documents is another challenge with a somewhat simple solution. If you are using InDesign to create a print document, you must link your images, and then package your document before sending to your printer. To Bleed, or Not to Bleed? Bleeds are a typical but easy enough prepress error to correct fairly quickly. A bleed is when an image, block of color, or other graphic element appears to run off the edge of the sheet, with no appearance of white border. To accommodate a bleed, the artwork is printed on an oversized piece of paper that will later be trimmed to the actual size of the final piece. “Pulling the bleed”, or extending the artwork by 1/8 inch (.125) to ¼ inch (.25) beyond where it will be trimmed, is something frequently overlooked by the designer before the artwork is submitted for press. When you open a new document in InDesign, you can create the document with the bleed amount (.125 inches - .25 inches) in the Document Setup window, along with page size, columns, and margins.  If you forget, you can always adjust the settings for your bleed later. If you’d like to see an interesting video on what bleeds are, check out this awesome and comical video that our friends from AlphaGraphics Atlanta created!}  

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