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Prepare Files (Dos & Don'ts)

Just as there are particular programs designed for business purposes such as spreadsheet programs and presentatiom programs, so also there are programs designed specifically for pieces that are to be printed. Programs like Word, WordPerfect, Excel and PowerPoint are good for what they are meant to do, but they are not designed for being output to print and can create problems for the print shop. Print shops can often use files created in these programs but not without alot of workarounds that may ultimately cost you alot more. If at all possible, you should have a designer create your files. They have the necessary programs that a print shop is familiar with. Programs like QuarkXpress, PageMaker, Illustrator, FreeHand and PhotoShop are high end programs designed specifically for files being output for printing. Even these programs are designed for specific purposes. Quark and PageMaker for example, are page layout programs designed specifically to create books and brochures. Illustrator and FreeHand on the other hand have the necessary tools to create all kinds of graphics while PhotoShop can do wonders with photos. Files created in Illustrator, FreeHand and PhotoShop are then be placed in the page layout program to create a final product for print.

It is important to note that fonts used and files placed in a page layout program are not a physical part of that file. When a picture or graphic is placed in Quark, for example, Quark knows the location of the original picture or graphic and creates a link to it. A similar thing occurs with fonts. When your printer opens the Quark file, Quark looks for a copy of the font and also looks for any pictures and graphics that were used to create the document. For that reason, it is important to send all the fonts and files that you used to create a document. Some programs allow you to "embed" the graphics and pictures so that they actually become a part of the document. This is not often a good idea since it creates a much larger file and then makes it impossible for the printer to make any changes since the original is not available. Most programs have a "Collect for output" feature that will automatically search for and collect all fonts and graphics used in a document. There is, however, an exception to this. If you've created a graphic in another program using a font other than was used in Quark, Quark will not know this font was used. In cases like this, you must send any font used in your placed graphics. One note at this point. Any color graphic or photo placed in a page layout program that will ultimately be sent to print must be a CMYK file, not RGB!! RGB files are used strictly for web or presentation files. If you send a printer an RGB color photo, the color can change drastically when converted to CMYK. Photos must also be sent at 300 dpi. (See the section on scanning for further explanation).

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