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
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 adobe.com 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
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
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.