Digital prepress, the conversion of electronic information about text and graphics into output-ready form, is a crucial aspect of book manufacturing.
But it takes more than looking good on a computer screen for titles to translate from bytes to ink on paper.
When things go well, prepress production reflects modern technology at its best. But incorrectly prepared electronic files wreak production havoc, and are the top cause of production delays, surcharges, and missed delivery dates.
Here are the most common causes of prepress problems, as nominated by a team of technical experts at R.R. Donnelley, in New York.
If your organization hasn't been tripped up by these common blunders, congratulations. Give your team a collective pat on the back.
If, however, this list strikes close to home, it's a good idea to build your organization's prepress skills through seminars and training sessions.
PDF (Portable Document Format) boosted the prepress workflow, and is preferred by many printers. Because PDFs require embedding of images and fonts, many believe any PDF file is a perfect package.
That's not the case. It's devilishly easy to make a bad PDF. Fonts can be incorrectly embedded, images can be at the wrong resolution, output can be misdirected.
To avoid the pain of rejected files, contact your prepress provider about settings and requirements before distilling your PDF files.
Printers are eager to share their preferences for font embedding, trapping options, and printer settings.
A layout won't look the same on a computer that doesn't have exactly the same fonts installed as the computer on which it was created.
Even an identically named font from a type foundry can have multiple versions, each with miniscule differences that can spark document reflow.
Add to that subtle tweaking that designers might apply to a font, and you have the potential for prepress disasters.