There are many things to consider when starting
a new job. Planning is one of the most important parts of the process.
Improper planning, design, and setup can cost more time and money,
or can even create unprintable projects.
When planning a project, you must realize who the
customer is and who their target customer is. You also need to understand
the budget considerations that the customer must follow. Being aware
of your customer's expectations and budget is important to keep in
mind when planning for the type of paper, number of colors, size of
the project, and so on.
You must know how you are going to finish the printed
piece before you start it. Some things to keep in mind while planning
the project are:
- Will the trim size of the finished sheet allow the best
use of the signature sheet? A small change in only one dimension
can save a lot of wasted paper.
- Make a
dummy to make certain you have set up the correct amount
of pages. Signatures consist of 4, 8 or 16 pages in most cases.
The amount of pages must be a multiple of 4. In your page layout
program, set the page size to be the actual page size so that trim
marks will be accurate. Many printers use
imposition software to set up the signatures before outputting
to film. The imposition software saves on film usage and stripping
- Will the paper you have chosen run through the press? Some
light-weight and very heavy stocks may give you problems. Also,
some papers come in certain sizes only and will have to be cut down,
causing paper waste.
- How many ink units are on the press? If you are printing
a job with four
color process, three spot
colors, and varnish, the job will require an eight unit
press. If the printer does not have an eight color press, he may
have to run it through the press in several passes. Running it through
a press in more than one pass could add substantially to the cost
of your job. Most printers have a set of "standard" inks
that they order premixed to PMS (Pantone
Matching System) standard colors. Using one of the PMS standard
colors can save money over having the printer mix their own color.
Keep in mind that trying to match a PMS color by using process colors
will be close but not exact.
- Which paper and printing process will be used? You need
to know this information so that you can set the correct halftone
screen, image resolution (1.5-2 times the halftone screen),
gain for photographs.
- Is the desktop publishing software in which the artwork
was created, compatible with the software the printer uses? Is the
platform and version number the same? Are the fonts available or
are they supplied (both printer and screen) and are they the correct
type (not TrueType)? Are all linked images supplied?
- Make sure you understand and use color
management. Every device such as scanners, monitors, and
ink jet printers all use color differently. In order for the piece
to end up printing like the designer intended, use a color management
- Are your color settings correct for the printing process?
If you have scanned images or other graphics, they must be set for
(cyan, magenta, yellow, black), not RGB (red, green, blue). Also
make sure the colors of your images are not out of gamut range of
colors that can be displayed or printed). For the black separation
plate, use either UCR (Under Color Removal) or GCR (Gray Component
Replacement). UCR generates black mainly in the dark, neutral shadow
area, making the shadow detail better. GCR generates black throughout
the image (colors and neutrals), beginning in the highlights. Choose
the one your printer recommends. Another consideration is the total
ink limit the press can support. Consult your printer for their
- Will you be using
APR (Automatic Picture Replacement) or
OPI (Open Prepress Interface)?
- If you are supplying film to a commercial printer, is it
correct? Do you have registration marks, center marks,
color bars, correct halftone screens, and screen
tints at the right percentages and angles? Did you set the
bleed size according to what your printer advises (usually 1/8")?
Check with the printer to see how they would prefer the film to
be output, such as RRED (right reading emulsion down).
- What size of a trap
do you need? Older presses may not be as accurate as newer presses,
and need a larger trap.
- What kind of proof
is going to be used? There are a lot of choices here too. You CANNOT
use a copy off an inkjet printer as a proof for the press!
- Decide how the document will be bound. If it is going to
be saddle stitched, you must make an allowance for the margins if
there are a lot of pages. Margins must be consistent so that the
paper cutter will not cut through live copy. Make sure to set your
margins correctly for left and right handed pages. If a 3 -ring binder
is to be used, make sure there is room for the punched holes and
that no copy is interfered with.
- Consider how the job will be archived. Will the printer
store the art files, film, and plates? What do they charge? What
are the chances for a rerun? Make sure you understand what will
happen to your job when it is completed.
- Do not hesitate to ask your printer questions. Experience
is the best teacher. The more you know, the easier your job will
be and the better your job will turn out.