Design Hints and Tips to help you design your job

Scan or save colour and greyscale images at 300 dpi at 100% of the final size
Scanned line art needs to be no more than 800 dpi at 100% of the final size.
Use a fill of white or 0%, not "none" in Quark picture boxes. Use "none" only if your illustration uses a clipping path.
Add 3mm bleeds all round if your job needs to print right to the trimmed edge.
Supply CMYK tiff or .eps images, not RGB.
For large areas of black use a "rich black" for better results. We use 80C, 60M, 50Y, 100K (in full cyan, magenta etc.)
Embed all fonts in your Microsoft Word or Publisher documents.
Use the Acrobat PPD when saving PostScript (.ps) or print (.prn) files to distill to PDF.
Don't use PDF Maker for making PDFs to print - they are rarely acceptable quality. Most other mainstream applications produce good-quality PDFs when "High Quality", "Print" or "Press" settings are used.
If you are supplying a job on CD please also send a hard copy and a folded dummy of your job for checking.
It's not necessary to do the imposition for us — even for business cards. Please just supply single pages set to the correct trim size (e.g. A4 on an A4 page, not an A3 page).
Pictures with LZW compression cause problems - if you must use compression, use JPEG, burt be aware that the more you compress the worse the picture will print.
Don't reduce a photo or scan to less than 20% of the original size when placing in a page layout program. Open them in an image editing programme such as Photoshop and scale them to the correct size.
Don't change any default trapping settings. Trapping is rarely a problem on our equipment.
If your job uses spot colour leave them as spot colours rather than converting them to CMYK. Our equipment uses tailored lookup tables to accurately make these conversions on the fly.

Stock * Pictures off the internet * Pantones * 4 Colour 'Rich' Blacks * Fonts * Scans * Bleeds * Colourising Images * Trapping * Illustrator/FreeHand * Adobe PageMaker * CorelDRAW * PDF * Microsoft Word and Publisher * Photoshop * How to supply materials on disk * LPI and DPI * Images * Duotones, tritones, quadtones * Colours * Flightchecking files

Our presses can print on virtually any stock. Capabilities include coated and uncoated, and many specialist polyester stocks - clear, semi-clear and opaque plastics, reflective silver, label and sticker stocks and many others. If you plan your projects in advance with us, we can help you take advantage of the range.
Pictures off the internet
Some customers provide us with images that have been downloaded from the internet, and which are generally low resolution images intended for screen viewing, not printing. These will always print out blurry, jagged and poor. Avoid using them if at all possible.
If you use Pantone colours in a CMYK job our equipment will automatically convert the colour at the printer, and the result is generally better than if you try the conversion to CMYK yourself. Most of these CMYK conversions inks are very similar, but some, notably very bright colours like lime greens, bright oranges or reds, are less so. If you have acces to a Pantone Process Colour book, check these shades first to see if you'll be happy with the result. Other Pantone colours such as fluorescents or metallics can't be reproduced at all. This is true of any CMYK output, either digital or conventional 4 colour printing.
4 Colour ‘Rich' Blacks
Larger areas of black will print beautifully if a "rich black" is used. We suggest making a new colour using 80C, 60M, 50Y, 100K. This will produce a deep, lustrous black. Make sure text is not set to print in this four colour black! Text or fine line work should be left 100K only.
• We prefer clients to use TrueType or Type 1 PostScript fonts. Multiple Master fonts can cause problems, and we prefer clients not to use them if they have a choice.
• If using Microsoft Word or Publisher on Windows, use TrueType fonts only, and embed them in the document to prevent the document from reflowing.
• Never apply styles such as Bold or Italic from the menu or keyboard. Instead, choose the correct version of the font from your type menu (e.g. B Times Roman Bold). Choosing the Outline style rarely produces acceptable results, either. Create your effect in a drawing program instead.
• Be sure to supply us with ALL screen and printer fonts used in your document.
• We recommend that you use fonts from reputable type vendors such as Adobe, Agfa, Linotype and many others. Fonts supplied with software such as Corel DRAW are commonly used in the Windows environment and will print satisfactorily. In Illustrator, Freehand or Coreldraw unusual fonts are best converted to outlines to prevent printing problems.
• Don't use pirated fonts, and avoid cheap or edited ones. Most drawing applications let you convert fonts to outlines, which can be helpful in getting round the problem of fonts that won't print.
• Be very careful not to use the page layout software to "create" a font for which you do not have a printer font - for instance you can create a bold italic for which a printer font does not exist, by selecting the text and using command-shift I & B. If you do this, your output will be bitmapped. The safest way to avoid this pitfall is to use the actual font list in your page layout software.
• Supply us with all printer and screen fonts used in your document. TrueType are easier - they're only one file. Be sure to include all fonts 'nested' in imported EPS files — these are very often missed.
• Make sure to send a copy of the fonts and images you've used in your job. In Quark use the "Collect for Output" command; in InDesign use the "Package" command; in Pagemaker use the "Save for Service Provider" plug-in.
• Save all scanned images in CMYK TIFF format unless clipping paths have been used. In that case use EPS.
• Colour and greyscale scans should be used at 100% final size with a resolution of 300 dpi. Scaling is allowed, if the final effective resolution is close to 300 dpi.
• Black and white (line art) material should be scanned at no more than 800dpi.
• Do not supply RGB, Scitex CT or PICT images. We will need to convert these to CMYK TIFF, and charge you for the time taken to do so.
• Do not use LZW compression - our equipment does not support it. It will cause errors on output, for which we must then charge you to correct.
• Clipping paths are supported (set path flatness to 1).
• Avoid resizing, or skewing bitmap graphics in any program other than Illustrator or Photoshop. This is good practice at any time.
Bleeds (what are bleeds and do I need them)
Bleed is the term for printing that goes over the trimmed border of the paper, letting colour run right up to the outer edge. All layout packages allow you set up for bleed. To use it set up your images or backgrounds etc to run over by 3mm on each edge. When we get your file we print it then trim it to the required size. Any image outside the trim area is cut off, leaving colour running right up to the freshly cut edge.
Colourising Images
Grayscale and bitmap TIFFs may be colourised in Quark. Do not adjust the image in any other way in Quark or Pagemaker (screen, tint, contrast, etc.) Duotones are supported. Avoid ‘double colouring' — colourising the picture and colourising the background using a different colour - rather, achieve the effect you want using PhotoShop.
Our presses overprint all black elements automatically. If for some reason you do NOT want black to overprint, please state this explicitly when placing your order. Registration on our presses is extremely accurate, and trapping is rarely a problem.
• For best results, place scanned images into your page layout program, rather than into these illustration packages.
• Always embed FreeHand information when exporting EPS graphics (to allow editing if necessary). Please save Freehand Nine images in Freehand Eight.
• Place Freehand, Illustrator, Photoshop and Corel images in Quark, InDesign, PageMaker or Publisher. It is much easier and safer to print from page layout rather than illustration programmes.
• Set printer resolution to 600 dpi in image editing software before saving EPS.
• Check ‘Use Compatible Blends‘ in Illustrator before saving EPS.
• NEVER supply several jobs in Freehand or Illustrator using layers. When preparing these files for output at a bureau, convert all level-specific files into new separate documents (flat files), or, in Freehand, on separate pages in the Freehand document.
Adobe PageMaker
• Set Target Printer Resolution to 600 dpi in Page Setup.
• Set Link Options to link to, rather than embed graphics. PageMaker 7 has a Global Links plug-in that can make this process much easier than prior versions.
• In general, avoid embedding scans into CorelDRAW. Its colour management system can seriously degrade image quality. CorelDRAW 7 and 8 support OPI linking which avoids embedding the scanned image in the document.
• CorelDRAW generates bitmaps when creating textured fills. These bitmaps will not print well. Build textures in Photoshop or PhotoPaint, save as CMYK TIFF and import them (using linking — do not embed) for best results.
PDF files are ideal to print from if they're created correctly, and are the best way to ensure fast, accurate output. They avoid the common problem of text reflows in Microsoft Word, and are designed to be as small as possible while still retaining all necessary data for a good quality print
• Most mainstream applications produce good print quality PDFs if when "High Quality", "Print" or "Press" settings are used. The exception is Adobe's own PDF Writer, which rarely produces PDFs suitable for printing. If you are using other applications use the Acrobat PPD in the print dialogue or print setup where possible - it provides maximum compatibility and quality across a wide range of applications and output devices.
• We can accept PDF files created in any software, including obscure or out of date software packages. A PDF file also enables us to accept files created in foreign languages where asian fonts especially can be an issue.
• If you do have Adobe Acrobat Distiller, set the dialog boxes up for high end output. If you are not sure how to do this we can assist you. Email us at We're happy to help.
Microsoft Word and Publisher   More detailed information about preparing your files with Publisher
Microsoft Word and Publisher documents have a nasty habit of reflowing the text and changing line or page breaks when a file created on one computer is opened on another. You can avoid this problem by embedding your fonts in your document before transferring it to us for output. An even safer way of guaranteeing your job outputs as you expect is to provide us with a PDF file distilled from you Word or Publisher file.
Photoshop duotones, tritones and quadtones to be printed as part of a CMYK document must be saved as CMYK first, otherwise they will reproduce as greyscale pictures. This conversion will strip all duo-, tri- and quadtone information for the file, so make sure you have a backup copy!
How To Supply Material On Disk
• When you supply material on disk for to output, please supply only files relevant to the job or jobs. Remove all others.
• Please put all files required to output a particular job in one folder. Don't use separate folders for graphics. The reason for this is that when you copy the job from your computer to your removable disk, you break the link established between your layout file and associated graphics files. If these elements are in different folders, we have to re-establish those links. If those links are in a number of separate folders, and if there are files on the disk that are not relevant to the job, this can be a time-consuming process with potential for error.
• We recommend scanning all greyscale and CMYK images at twice the dpi (dots per inch) of the highest lpi (lines per inch) the job is finally intended to be printed at. So if your job is to be printed using a 175 line screen (the industry standard) , scan at 350dpi. Scanning at 1.5 times the lpi the job is to be printed at produces almost identical results, however you have little safety margin to enlarge the image if you want to change the design. Images scanned at twice the dpi of the final lpi the job is to printed at can be enlarged by up to 25% without any noticeable loss of quality.
• Images intended for use as backgrounds need only be scanned at the same dpi as the lpi the job is to be output - for example, if your job is to be printed using a 175 line screen, scan your backgrounds at 175 dpi. This usually sufficient for an abstract background that will be screened back to only 20% or 30% of the original.
• Unless you have a carefully calibrated monitor, go by numbers and colour swatches, not by how the job looks on the screen!
• Save your images as CMYK, not RGB. RGB images usually print with flat, lifeless colour.
• If the same image is used at different sizes in the one document, it should be cropped, resized and saved for each use. Cropping to a small part of a large image can slow down job processing substantially.
• Don't use PICT files, which are always RGB, and don't paste into picture boxes - import and place files.
• Always select 'Use Printer Defaults' (Page Setup > screen) when saving PhotoShop files. This will remove the possibility of individual images printing to a different screen ruling (usually more coarse!) than the rest of the document.
Duotones, Tritones, Quadtones
• Duotones, tritones and quadtones to be printed as part of a CMYK document must be converted to and saved as CMYK first in PhotoShop, otherwise they will reproduce as greyscale pictures.
• Remove all unused spot/custom colours from your document, as well as from all placed EPS files in the document (charts, illustrations etc.). In Illustrator, go to Custom Colours>Select all unused>Delete>Save>Update.
• It is particularly important in Illustrator that black lines are CMYK black and not spot black. If the are spot black, they will print on all four plates. This can be achieved universally in a document by selecting Filter>Colours>Adjust Colours> and selecting Custom and B&W colours to Process.
• Black text may print on all four plates of a CMYK separated job if text is cut and pasted from some software (such as MS Word or Excel or Publisher), or if Publish and Subscribe is used with Excel. If you have to work this way, please let us know so we can plan appropriate action to ensure the text prints only on the black plate.
Flightchecking Files
• There are several excellent ‘preflighting'' software programmes which enable you to check your files for such things as RGB images that should be CMYK, images that have been compressed, images that have been enlarged too much for optimal reproduction, missing graphic files and missing screen or printer fonts. We use and recommend ‘FlightCheck'' from Markzware.
• Larger projects such as catalogues which contain a number of elements from different sources can be almost guaranteed to have problems that make the job difficult to print. Running the job through FlightCheck will usually locate these problems and enable them to be fixed.
• FlightCheck produces a report which can be printed, as well as recommending remedial action for any problems it finds

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