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Preparing Images and Publications for Printing

When creating a publication it is good to know ahead of time whether the publication is going to be viewed on the Internet or printed. If printed, how will it be printed; what type of printer and paper will be used? Will the publication be printed in black and white or in color? If printed in color, will it be spot or full color? What kind of images will it contain: clip art, logos, photographs? Knowing this ahead of time will help you in preparing your publication for the best end results.

One thing to consider when preparing images to print is the resolution, or the number of dots/pixels per inch (dpi). While you could print an image at 150 dpi, 300 dpi is optimal. This will assure that images are sharp and clip art and other shapes will be smooth around the edges. If your publication is heading for the world wide web, a resolution of 72 dpi is used as it will keep the size of the file smaller for quicker viewing.

When printing in color, there are two ways of doing this: spot color or full color also known as four color process. Spot color is when you have a logo or other graphic element that is a single color. Spot colors are surrounded by white and do not touch any other color on the page. There can be multiple spot colors in your document.

Although you can specify a spot color to be red or blue, there are many shades of red, blue and every other color of the rainbow. This is when you would use a color matching system to select the exact shade of the color you desire. The most popular color matching system is the Pantone Matching System (PMS). Pantone makes color chip books much like the paint chips you can get to select paint for your walls. Companies who have had a professional logo designed for them will have PMS number(s) for the exact colors to be used when printing their logos. Desktop publishers and graphic designers, who create documents for press, should have access to a color matching system guide.

Full color or four-color process printing is when cyan, yellow, magenta and black (CYMK) are used in varying degrees overlaying each other to produce millions of colors. Publications with full color photographs, radiant fills or multi-color images or logos would be printed in full color. Desktop color laser and inkjet printers, print using the CYMK mode. However, the same file printed on different desktop printers will give you varying results. A professional printing press is the best option to get a match that is as exact as possible. Two things to keep in mind about color printing: 1. color displayed on your monitor is not necessarily the same color that will print, and 2. that the same color printed on different stocks of paper will vary slightly in color.

If your publication is going to be printed in black and white or grayscale, then of course you would select grayscale. CYMK is the mode to use for full color printing of your publication. RGB is the mode to choose for documents that will be viewed on the Internet.

To change the image mode, open the image in your graphics program and find where you can change the mode. In Photoshop this would be done by first opening the image, select Image from the menu bar, then Mode, which shows a list of modes available, and then choose the mode you want.

When putting together a publication with images that will be printed in full color, I start by opening each image in Photoshop. There the image is cropped, re-sized (Image Size), brightness/contrast adjusted (Adjustments), and the mode (Mode) is changed to CYMK. The images are then placed in the document along with the text and all other elements such as headers and footers. Once everything is completed, proofed and approved, a PDF file is created to send to the printer.

While there are many programs to create PDF files, PageMaker can export your file using the version of Acrobat Distiller that is included with the program. There are two PDF styles to export to: On Screen and Print. On Screen will produce a low resolution file that is best viewed on screen and is much smaller in size allowing for faster uploading, downloading and emailing of the file. Selecting Print will produce a higher resolution file that is suitable for printing in full color.

Keep in mind the difference in size between viewing on your monitor and an actual printout. For example, a business card when viewed on your monitor can look great and is easily readable. However, when reduced to its printed size of 2 x 3", it gets really small, fancy typefaces can become difficult to read, images and colors can look different than on the screen. So, before printing multiple copies, always print out a proof first. Proofread not only the text, but also check that everything lines up properly, all your images look sharp and clear, and your colors print as expected. And then proofread again!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Laura Nunn. All rights reserved.
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