How-To Articles

Support Files

Printer's Tip - Support Files

When getting ready to send your files to the printer, here’s one way to ensure smooth production of your job. Whether you send files in pdf, Quark, Pagemaker, InDesign, MS Word, Publisher, or any other publishing program you may have, it’s always a good idea to send all the files you used to create the job as well.

If there is artwork, send it in its native format. That is to say if it is a jpeg file, send the jpeg file. It won’t help to place the jpeg file into a bogus Word document and send it. If it is placed in a Word document, we can only open the Word document. We would then have no access to the art itself. The purpose of the extra files is to give the printer a full toolbox to fix any unforeseen problems without extra delays and phone calls back and forth. If there is a problem with the art, we can then fix the art file and continue the job through production.

Photos should also be sent in addition to the job files. Resolution is always a key issue to a quality print job, and can mean the difference between dazzling and disaster. Resolution is often referred to as “Dots per inch” (DPI) or “Pixels per inch” (PPI). I will be explaining this concept in much further detail in later additions to this web site. For now, however, a low DPI, or “Low Res” file has a blocky look to it. “High Res” on the other hand, appears smooth, sharp and crisp. Any time we need to refer to the High Res file, it always helps to have it included as part of the job.

Last, but not least, the most commonly missed files are fonts. Missing fonts in a job is probably the most common delay in the prepress production of any job. They are small files, but oh, so important. If these files are not sent with the job, all the type appears blocky (Low Res), or the computer that process the job will substitute another font for the one that is missing, usually courier type. That might not be so bad if you wanted your high quality piece to look like it was typeset on an old fashioned typewriter.

Many of today’s publishing programs have a utility meant specifically for gathering all the support files for a project into one folder suitable for transport. In Quark, it’s called “Collect for Output”. In InDesign, it’s called “Package”. This utility, if your program supports one, is usually found under the “File” pull-down menu. Simply follow the instructions given and your project will all be saved together with all the files that make it up.

Every program is different and each program differs from version to version as well. Check with your IT administrator to find out what your software is capable of.

One other common situation that exists is when art from Illustrator (for example) that contains art and type with fonts is then placed into a Quark (for example) document. “Collect for Output” in Quark will recognize the need for fonts in Quark, but may not see the fonts needed in the Illustrator file placed in Quark. It will show up as missing when at the printer and everything comes together for the final output. For the smoothest operation in this case, send the fonts used in the Illustrator file along with the job fonts.

Saving and sending the printer the support files for your job will ensure a smoother and faster throughput than if these extra files are not sent. In the end, it will save time, and save money.