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Part VIII: Power Photoshop > Tips for Preparing Photoshop Files for Page Layout

Tips for Preparing Photoshop Files for Page Layout

Here are some tips, tricks, and general rules of thumb to bear in mind when creating files in Photoshop that are destined for a page layout program:

  • Resize images in Photoshop rather than in the layout file—in other words, InDesign or Quark lets you make images larger or smaller than their print size as set in Photoshop. However, doing so means extra work for whatever RIP is outputting the file. Granted, the situation is not as dire these days as it used to be, and you'd probably be hard-pressed to find anyone who pays a great deal of attention to this. Still, if you are preparing a document with 100 imported images, and in Photoshop they're all 5×7 inches, and you're reducing them all in Quark to 2×3 inches, you might want to consider making them smaller in Photoshop.

  • Use only standard file formats. The rule of thumb in print publishing is TIFFs for raster art, EPSs for vector art. Although page layout applications can import myriad formats, not all output services or printers can process them. Even JPEGs are not usually recommended for print output. If you want to import native, unflattened Photoshop files into a layout to try different design ideas, go right ahead. When you're ready to send out your file, however, your best bet is to relink to a flattened TIFF or EPS file.

  • Do all image editing in Photoshop. Some layout programs (like the new QuarkXPress 5.0) give you the ability to do some minor image-editing work—for example, adjust contrast—right in the page layout. Although that's nice, you'll still get higher-quality results if you optimize everything in Photoshop beforehand. (Also, if you need to use the image in another layout, you won't have to recorrect it.)

  • Make sure your images are in the correct color space—in other words, RGB for the Web, CMYK for print. There's nothing worse than getting The Call from your service provider telling you that he or she can't make color separations because your files are in the wrong color space. (It's even worse—and way more expensive—to get film back and find out that not all the images separated properly.)

  • If you are working only with spot colors in your page layout, make sure you are not using CMYK images. By the same token, if you are working only with CMYK, make sure there are no spot colors defined in your document, or you'll have more color separation negatives than you can use.

  • Make sure you have enough resolution to keep the image from pixellating. This is why the Links and Picture Usage palettes and dialog boxes give you all this information, so there is no doubt about whether you'll have enough data to produce a decent image. (In other words, if you create a 50KB GIF for the Web, don't expect to be able to print it larger than about a half inch by a half inch.)

  • Preflight your files before sending them out. Preflighting involves using software tools to double-check that all images are at the correct resolution, all color spaces are correct, and so forth. InDesign has a built-in preflighting feature, and third-party programs, such as the pioneering FlightCheck from Markzware Software, are also extremely powerful and compatible with a wide variety of application file types. FlightCheck can run extensive preflight checks on InDesign, QuarkXPress, PageMaker, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, and even Word files.

  • Talk to your printer or service provider if you are using some new features, such as transparency. Also, if you are using InDesign, double-check whether your service provider can accept InDesign files at all. In some quarters, the program has been slow to catch on, and some folks find they have to export files as PDFs to get them output. Not that that's too much of a problem (PDF is probably the way all of this is going to go in the future, anyway), but it does add an extra step.



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