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Chapter 24. Print > Imagesetting tips

Imagesetting tips

An imagesetter is a device that produces high-resolution (1,250–3,540 dpi) paper or film output from electronic files. The paper or film output, in turn, is used by commercial printers to produce printing plates. Note: Some printers skip the intermediary film output step entirely and go directly to plate—so ask your printer! The following is a checklist of things to do to help your imagesetting run successfully:

  • Find out if your commercial printer can output your electronic files. Since they're intimately familiar with the printing press—its quirks and its requirements—they're often the best candidate for imagesetting.

  • If you're outputting the file with an output service provider, ask your commercial printer for specific advice regarding such settings as the lpi (lines per inch), emulsion up or down, and negative/positive. Tell your output service what output settings your commercial printer specified, and they'll enter the correct values in the Print dialog box (Output pane) when they output your file. Don't guess on this one. Also ask whether you should set trapping values yourself or have the output service do the trapping on their high-end system. You can also ask your commercial printer to talk directly with your output service provider.

  • Make sure any pictures in the layout are saved at final printout size and at the appropriate resolution for the final output device, which means approximately 1H times the final lpi for a black-and-white or grayscale picture and 2 times the final lpi for a color picture. If a picture (especially an EPS) requires cropping, rotating, or scaling down, do so in the picture's original application, if possible—it will output more quickly.

  • Use the File > Collect for Output command to collect your project and associated images and to produce a report file. If you don't supply your output service provider with the original picture files, the low-resolution versions will be used for printing (yech!). The report file lists important specifications that they need in order to output your file properly, such as the fonts used in the layout.

  • If your output service provider needs a PDF or PostScript file of your layout, ask them for specific instructions.

  • Some output service providers will supply the necessary fonts—at least the Adobe fonts—but some printers prefer to have you supply them all. Include both the screen and the printer fonts, and don't forget to supply the fonts used in any imported EPS pictures.

  • Include printouts of your file (unless you're transferring the file electronically), with Registration marks turned on, or send a PDF version of the file.

  • If your layout doesn't print or takes an inordinately long time to print on your laser printer, don't assume it will print quickly on an imagesetter. Large pictures, irregularly shaped picture boxes, and clipping paths are some of the many items that can cause a printing error. If you are using the same high-resolution picture more than once, but in very different sizes, import copies of the picture saved at those specific sizes.

  • To reduce the amount of information the imagesetter has to calculate, delete any extraneous items from the layout's pasteboard. To find out if there are any pictures on the pasteboard, choose Utilities > Usage, and click the Pictures tab. If you see a dagger icon in Mac OS X or the letters “PB” in Windows, it means that picture is on the pasteboard.



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