What Should You Include When Sending Us Your Project?
The Files We Need
When supplying us with files, there are a few industry-standard guidelines we would like to share with you. These simple procedures can help to ensure that your job is produced as quickly and as smoothly as possible. We would like to emphasize, however, that these are only guidelines. If they aren't realistic for you, don't worry about it. We pride ourselves in doing whatever it takes to make your project successful. In terms of files, we suggest you include the following:
Layout Files or PDF? You can send us either layout files from Quark, InDesign, Word, or other common application, or you can elect to create a PDF and send that to us. If you send us a PDF, we can process your project quicker and possibly at a lower price, but our ability to edit the files is limited. Layout files are more work for us but give us the flexibility to make changes. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of last-minute changes.
The PDF Option
To create a PDF you will need the Professional version of Acrobat. Make sure you embed your images and fonts. You can do this automatically by choosing the PDF X1/A profile; Acrobat creates a PDF with all of the options necessary for print when this profile is applied.
The Layout Files Option
When supplying Quark or InDesign files, it helps to have all of your document and graphics files loose in the same directory/folder to automate the link updating process. Put all of your fonts loose in a second directory/folder. Better yet, use the Collect for Output functionality built into both programs to collect and organize your project files.
Fonts. While most likely, we will already have them, remember there are many versions of the same font even if it is from the same foundry. Different versions can cause slight variations in the kerning and letter-spacing, which in turn can have disastrous results on your carefully-crafted line breaks. As we've pointed out before, without them your line breaks can change! This is why you should always include your fonts, especially if you have used system fonts, such as Helvetica and Times. If we catch the change, we can fix it for you, though making these changes takes time. It's best to try to avoid the problem in the first place by always supplying us with the fonts.
Illustrations and Other Artwork. While it may seem they have been "placed" in your layouts, in reality, they exist as separate documents that need to be sent along with layout files.
Scans and Digital Camera Files. If you are supplying high-resolution images with your files, remember to copy them separately. They are generally not embedded in your layout files, so put them on your CD.
Note that if you use collect for output functionality when submitting layout files, all of these elements are automatically collected into a single send folder.
In addition to these files, provide us any supporting documentation that you can. It helps to have a list of all page elements. You might just print out your disk directory window.
Optional Color Output Print-Outs at 100%. If you plan on physically sending us your project, it is helpful, but not required, for you to include 100% lasers. It makes it easy to ensure that your line breaks have been maintained, all fonts have been rendered correctly and all placed graphics printed. If that's not realistic because of the output size of your desktop printer, feel free to tile a proof or send a low-resolution PDF. We can work with desktop proofs scaled to output on your printer. If your project includes areas of complexity such as die cuts or special folds, feel free to mark up your proofs with notes to help us understand what you intended, and to give us a standard to compare our work against.
Proofing Your Job
Avoid Major Gaffes. We can provide you with either a PDF or a hard copy proof. In either case, we create the proof from the final files from which we plan to print. The first priority is to examine the sheet for major problems. Check the overall project aesthetics.
Watch for Typographical Errors. Typos are easier to spot if the text is read aloud. When making changes, make sure the final proof reflects all corrections made on previous proofs by comparing the new proof to any proofs you reviewed earlier.
Variable Data Digital Print Projects
At the very least, we will need:
A list of the variable placeholders found in your project and the corresponding value column in your data field
a data file that includes the search key and the variable replacement value for each field you plan to make variable
If you plan on taking advantage of any advanced variable data functionality, such as image substitution based on a data file that has a corresponding image file for each record or map functionality tied to a record's address, you will need to supply us with the additional files and/or information to run your job. Please call us to review.
If Your Project Requires a Press Check
You may elect to watch the job print, at least at the beginning of the run until you have signed off (typically for critical-color jobs). To ensure that your project prints just as you envision, it's best to make the most of your press check. This is the last possible opportunity to make corrections. These may or may not be billed as an author's alteration depending upon the nature of the request.
Scheduling and Planning a Press Check. Try to keep a flexible schedule. After the initial proofs have been finalized, we will inform you of a tentative press time. Keep in mind that our schedules can change unexpectedly. Once a press date and time is set, let your sales rep or customer service rep (CSR) know if we can expect you. That's your call, since a press check is of course not always necessary for a quality job. If you have concerns about your job, such as color builds, areas of heavy ink coverage, or how certain images print, tell your sales rep or CSR before the press check. We will alert the pressroom on your preferences. it is a good idea to bring something to do during the down times while on press. Your sales rep or CSR can spend whatever time you need working with you ensure your final printed piece meets or exceeds your expectations.
Finally, remember that changing even minor details could be very costly at this phase. Once the piece has met your satisfaction, you will be asked to sign a press sheet. This sheet will supersede any previous instructions or proofs, and will serve as the standard for the press run. If you have been thorough, you can rest easy; our experienced press crew will take it from there.