So you’ve designed that fabulous new brochure for your
business, or maybe an invitation to your summer luau BBQ, but now what? Unless
you are fortunate enough to have a Heidelberg press in your basement, or are
satisfied with your grainy inkjet printer, it’s time to take your files to a
Regardless of whether you are on a PC or Mac, you will have
to get the files you created to your printer of choice so they can mass-produce
your design. Using Adobe’s InDesign CS makes the designer/printer relationship
a breeze, but it’s helpful to know a few things first.
Recently, many printers have begun accepting PDF files to
print from. InDesign allows you to easily export a PDF of your document, but if
any changes have to be made, the printer will not be able to help you.
Additionally, some fonts carry restrictions that require the font to be
installed on the computer for it to display properly in a PDF, so if you forget
to send your printer the font, your flourishing, flashy font may be reduced to
the quintessentially boring Times. Packaging up your native files for your
printer makes the most sense, and really is quite easy.
When I first started designing and publishing InPark
Magazine, I was an absolute novice in the printing world. So, after finishing
the first issue’s design, I felt a little bit foolish when I was instructed by
my printer to “preflight and package” my files for them.
“Uh…… what’s that?”
As Greg Chapman will attest to, every pilot begins a flight
with conductng a thorough and standard preflight check that ensures essential
elements of their plane are in working order and, hopefully, will prevent a
crash later on. Preflighting your document accomplishes the same thing, though
it’s much less work for a designer!
When you preflight, you are asking the program to check and
make sure everything in your document is in working order. Although a lot is
happening during the preflight, there are essentially three main areas that are
FONTS – The document is scanned to see which
fonts are being used in the document and ensures that those fonts actually
exist on the computer. Unlike Microsoft Word, for instance, where you can apply
a bold or italic typeface to just about any font, in InDesign, you must have a
specific style of font installed for it to function. In other words, you choose Times Regular, Times Bold, Times Italic, or Times Bold Italic, rather than apply bold or italic to Times. Occasionally, a section of text will be converted
(probably through an improper style application on my part) into a font that
really doesn’t exist. Preflight will find that font, and tell you where to find
it in the document.
IMAGES – When you insert an image into an
InDesign document, you are technically creating a link to that image, much as
you would on a webpage. If you move that original image to a different location
on your computer, or throw it away, InDesign won’t know where to find that
image. Preflight checks all the links to images within your document and
ensures the images are still accessible in their indicated location. Missing
images will be notated (though you should already know this information,
as InDesign likes to notify you if any of the image links are missing when you
open a document!).
COLORS – Unless you are looking for a precise,
matched color, you likely want only a four-color document. Those four colors
are known as Process Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. Preflight will check
your document to find out what colors you are using. Additional spot colors
will be noted, and rest assured your printer will charge you extra for that
The preflight process allows you to look at all of these
elements and make changes before committing to Packaging the document.
Just as its name implies, packaging takes all the components
of your document (the page layout, fonts, images and colors/inks) and puts them
in a nice neat package for your printer. Packaging creates a separate folder
you can name that inserts a copy of your document, copies of all the fonts
used, copies of all the images used, and a text file with any special notes or
information you want to include for your printer.
You can then take that one folder and place it on your
printers’ FTP site or copy it to a disk and hand it to them. Everything they
need should be in one convenient location, and your document will be ready to