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Last week we provided a list of  8.5 steps to creating an InDesign file that prints perfectly on the first try. We promised to elaborate on the 8.5 steps. Here’s more detail on the first three steps.

1. Identify and talk to your printer early. The sooner you can identify the printer and create your documents with that printer in mind, the less likely you are to run into issues at print time. Get answers to questions like this:

  • What is the final paper size? (An 8.5″x11″ catalog may not really be 8.5″x11″.)
  • What is the minimum internal margin that is acceptable for the printer? Most printers like a minimum of 3/8” internal margins.
  • What kind of files does the printer want to receive – the original InDesign/Quark/whatever files, Postscript files, or PDF files?
  • How does the printer want those files prepared – if Postscript, what printer profile would they like the Postscript file printed from; if PDF, what preferences (aka job options) would they like to be used (better yet, can they provide the job option they’ve prepared for their equipment)?
  • If your document has a spine, ask about the size of the spine (it will vary depending not only on the number of pages in your document, but also on the type and weight of paper used).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

2. Use the proper page size.

  • Depending on how the document is printed, the printer may be trimming the paper – create your document for the size the printer tells you the final document will be.
  • Don’t create a 4.25″x5.5″ document on an 8.5″x11″ paper size or a 4-page 8.5″ x 11″ newsletter on an 11″x17″ paper size. Sure, it’s quick & easy to set it up that way, but you’ll pay for it in the end when you have to reformat it for printing. You can set your document up for any paper size and still make the layout portrait or landscape and still use double-page spreads.

3. Create bleeds if you have elements that you want to print to the edge of the page.

Your document size will still be the size of the finished document (see above), but create a bleed in your document setup menu. When you place those elements that you want to go to the edge of the page (which is called bleeding off the page), extend them beyond the edge of the page. Most printers like a 3/8″ bleed, but ask to be sure. Again, that means your images should go over the edge of your page by 3/8″ – don’t stop at the edge of the page or you may have a white edge after the paper is cut. At the very least, you’re making your printer’s job harder and you may incur extra setup charges.

Next week’s blog will address things to do while creating the document to ensure it prints. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call or comment below. (If it’s an immediate need, give us a call.) If you have tips of your own, please – share them with others by commenting below.

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