Preparing Your File for Press
office of marketing communications
Printers generally expect certain things when receiving digital files from
customers. You may want to print this page and use it as a final checklist before
sending your file to the printer. While there are always details specific to
each project, following this list of general guidelines will minimize problems
once you release your file to the printer and will help you avoid extra charges
Pull Out Bleeds When an image or area of color goes to the edge of the page, it is referred to as a bleed. Since trimming pages is never perfect, you should provide 1/8 inch (.125 in.) extra around the edges beyond the bounds of the page. This is done by "pulling out" the edges of picture boxes or fields of color.
Check Images Check that all images, illustrations, and other artwork are included in the folder that you will send to the printer. In Quark XPress, you can use the "collect for output" function, which will collect all necessary art for a document.
Check Fonts Make sure that you send all fonts—both screen fonts and printer fonts—used in your document along with your file. Use a font-checking utility such as "Font Usage" in Quark XPress to see what fonts are used in your document. If you see any fonts that you did not intend to use, find them and correct the problem before sending your files to press.
Check Colors Check the color usage of your document to make sure that you have no unwanted colors and that any spot colors are correct. Note that while PageMaker removes any unused colors, Quark XPress maintains a default palette regardless.
Spellcheck Make sure that you spellcheck your document as one of the last steps before sending it out. Though your text should have been spellchecked in the writing stage, errors often occur in the layout process inadvertently.
Check for Double Spaces Do a find-and-replace search for double spaces. This will ensure that there are no extra spaces in the middle of sentences or after periods. Boston College style is to use only a single space after a period.
Ligatures Use ligatures for the lowercase letter combinations "fi" and "fl." These are created by using the keystrokes "option" + "shift" + "5" for "fi" and "option" + "shift" + "6" for "fl."
Kerning Check all large headings for letterspacing. Generally, any heads over 18 points in size should be printed and examined for an optimal visual balance in the letterspacing.
Numerals Check all numbers, and make sure that they are Scala or Scala Sans, depending on the typeface you are using. If you have numerals in a small caps head or text such as Scala caps or Scala Sans caps, you should manually change the numerals to the appropriate regular font. For example, if you have a headline that says "2001 COURSE LISTINGS" in Scala Sans caps italic, you would change the numerals "2001" to Scala Sans italic. Likewise, if the text is in Scala caps, the numerals would be changed to Scala.
Widows, Orphans, and Rags Check for "widows," "orphans," and awkward breaks (rags) in all text. In left-justified text, check for unattractive rags such as a series of lines that creates a shape that calls attention to itself.
All Caps/Small Caps Check to make sure that any type that is all capital letters uses a small caps font and not all capitals of an upper/lowercase font. For example, make sure the type is Scala caps typed in lowercase and not Scala typed in all caps.
Proper Seal Usage If you are using a 4-color image on the cover of your document, make sure that you use a 4-color seal on the back cover in combination with the address.
Smart Quotes Perform a find-and-replace search to make sure that all quotes and apostrophes are "smart quotes."
Provide a Printout of the File Directory Once you have your final file, artwork, and fonts on a disk, print a copy of the directory and enclose it with your disk.
Print a Copy and Mark It Up Print a copy of your file with registration marks and mark the following in red ink:
- Write the file name and dimensions of your document on the top of the first page.
- Attach a Pantone color chip to the first page for any spot colors used in the document.
- Circle all corners where bleeds occur.
- Mark all folds.
- Mark color breaks; for instance, if a head is in gold (PMS 874), circle it and write "PMS 874."
- Mark any screens with the proper percentage.
- Mark each image with the type of image and its name.