Signature Book Printing - Book Printer

Problems In Files

This is a fairly new page on our site, so it does not include descriptions of all the ways a file can cause problems.  We'll be adding to these descriptions as we encounter problem files in the future.

Microsoft WORD.  The most common problem with Word is the reflow of text when files are moved from one computer to another. For that reason, we ask for correct paper printout when you send us your Word files.  Then we can see how the document is intended to look, and we can generally tweak it back into shape in short order. We don't charge for this adjustment.   If you send in your files without the correct paper printout, we have to proof out your files in the dark, so to speak.  If we subsequently need to rework your document because of reflow, then this constitutes an author alteration, and we charge for that.

Word thinks in RGB so if you place grayscale images in a Word document, then word transforms them into RGB. If your document is all black and white, this doesn't cause a problem because we can output it in black and white mode.  However, if your document is in color, we can't use that trick; we need to output it in color mode.  Then your originally-grayscale images become "color builds" (that is, made up of RGB or CMYK colors instead of only shades of gray), and these color builds do not reliably print to look like clean gray. We can fix this problem, but it takes a significant amount of time, and we charge for this work.

Microsoft PUBLISHER.  We find that Microsoft Publisher files of large documents with a lot of complexity are frequently time-consuming and difficult to process.  These are not trouble-free files; we charge our standard prepress rates for processing these files to working PDFs. If you want to avoid this cost, you can provide good PDF files.

Smaller Publisher files and Publisher files that are constructed in a straightforward way do not present this problem.

QuarkXpress.  The most common problem we encounter with QuarkXpress is the improper use of OPI.  As you output files to PDF, be sure to turn OPI off.  Otherwise, we'll need to ask you to send us a second set of files.

InDesign.  This program offers the very powerful feature of transparency.  If it's not used properly, transparency causes problems in your final printed document.  Here's a link to an Adobe document discussing transparency.  (If this link is dead, try visiting and search for transparency.

There are a lot of ways that transparency can cause problems. Among them: All color images in the document should be in CMYK and the "transparency blend space" should be set to CMYK.  Otherwise you'll get color distortion from reconverting colors as transparency is flattened.  If you have type or strokes (or any vector art) that cross through a transparent region, you should have it above the transparent effect; otherwise part of the vector art will be rasterized, which likely fattens it up, and the transition from normal to fattened will show up in your final document.

The best way to send us files from InDesign is to export them as PDF files.  Then you (and we) don't need to worry about links and fonts; they're all embedded in the PDF file. There's one strange problem area here: if you have bleeds and export your PDF files with tic marks turned on, these tic marks will stick into the bleed allowance of your document (It's unbelievable that such an excellent program would set this default value wrong!) Easy to avoid:  just set the offset value for tic marks to .125".

PDF. These are our preferred files, but even these files can carry problems. Here are some things to be careful about: Embed all fonts; don't compress images with JPEG compression;  turn OPI off when you make the PDF file; don't have images that are intended to be grayscale in the PDF files in RGB mode. For good printing, the resolution of images should be at least 300 dpi (of course, this doesn't just apply to PDF files). Some of these issues are not fixable without new files (excessive jpeg compression, low resolution, OPI problems), others are fixable but take time (grayscale in RGB), while others may be quick or may require additional files from you (fonts not embedded).

Not all PDF files are created equal. The Acrobat Distiller and its related plug-ins create the most solid, bullet-proof pdfs.  There are some low cost pdf-creating programs in the market that make pdfs which may be less solid. One such recent problem we've seen is in pdfs that came from a program to support non-roman alphabetic fonts (in this case, Amharic). It looked good on the screen, but printed 3 different ways on 3 different printers.

Books Printing 2/2.  Color can be provided in the text of your book in two ways:  4 color process (CMYK) or using Pantone inks. Most books are based on 4 color process. In the 4 color process approach, all colors are printed by building up a combination of various amounts of the 4 printing inks Cyan - Magenta - Yellow - and Black.  Images from your camera or scanner are generally generated as RGB (Red - Green - Blue) combinations, but these are easily converted to CMYK.

Color is achieved with Pantone inks by using the specific color(s) you want to have printed, not by building the color from a combination of the CMYK inks. Typically this is used as black + one Pantone color or 2 Pantone colors with no black.  These are designated on your quote as 2/2 or 2/0.

Now we get to the issue.  If you provide a file that uses CMYK or RGB to describe colors, it can not easily be converted for printing as black + a Pantone color, if it can be converted at all. A file intended for 2/2 printing must be set up properly to describe all colors as combinations of the 2 inks (generally black + 1 pantone color).

If you are planning to have your book printed 2/2, I strongly suggest that you send us a sample file so we can advise you whether there will be problems with the setup. We're happy to do it, and will quickly give you an answer that may save lots of problems later in the process.


Signature Book Printing   has been a Book Printer   of choice for the past 25 years. We have been on the web since 1997. From the beginning, we have focused not only on Book Printing   but also on smooth, easy customer service, excellent quality, and very competitive prices .  We have broadened our Book Printing offerings significantly from the beginning. Check out Signature Book Printing  as your Book Printer . As a Book Printer , we have earned the confidence and recommendations of a wide variety of customers nationwide to support their Publishing . Our capabilities include Hard Cover Book Printing , Full Color Book Printing , Case Bound Book Printing , Perfect Bound Book Printing , Smythe Sewn Binding , Soft Cover Book Printing , and Web Book Printing for longer runs.

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Dyn 1 - ver   1997 - 2015  Signature Book Printing, Inc.           Updated 07/04/20 08:16   301-258-8303