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Creating an InDesign document that prints right the first time every time doesn’t happen. It requires up-front planning and ongoing attention to detail. Two weeks I identified 8.5 steps to creating such a document. Last week we expanded on the first phase – preparation and document setup. This week’s topic is things to do right while creating your document.

Use “best practices” while creating your file. There are probably hundreds of best practices associated with creating a document, but here are just a few to keep in mind:

  • Don’t have extraneous frames on the page (even if they don’t have anything in them, delete them).
  • Size your frames to fit their content.
  • Place individual items being printed on separate pages.
  • Place repeating elements on master pages.
  • Use tabs to align text, not spaces.
  • Clean up your Word documents after you bring them into InDesign. We covered that in this blog.

Use CMYK colors, not RGB colors.

When you ask technology to convert from one color model to another, you may not get the results you want. For images, make the conversion from RGB to CMYK yourself before placing the images into your document. When creating color swatches, creating them in CMYK, not RGB.

Use high resolution graphics. Most of the time, when a document won’t print, there is a problem with your graphics. When a printed document looks bad, the problem is usually with your graphics.

Best choices:

  • TIF files (for images) at resolutions of 300dpi or greater
  • EPS files (for vector-based graphics)
  • PSD (Adobe Photoshop)
  • AI (Adobe Illustrator)

Acceptable – if their resolution is 300dpi or greater:

  • JPG
  • PDF

Do Not Use:

  • PNG
  • BMP
  • Any other old or obscure format

Make good font choices. The second most common reason your document doesn’t print properly is that there are font issues.

  • Where possible, use OpenType or PostScript fonts. They are the least likely fonts to cause problems when printing.
  • Provide the fonts you used in your document to the printer.

Oh – and while it won’t affect how well your document prints, please honor copyrights on images and fonts.

Next week we’ll cover the last of the 8.5 steps – those that fall under the category of prepping your files for print.

Let us know your tips for preparing a document so it’ll print right the first time every time by adding your comments below.

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