Preparing your own design and artwork for professional litho or digital printing is quite a bit more involved than preparing jobs for in-house desk-top printing. There are several reasons for this but the main ones can be summarised as:
- the professional printing industry, as you might expect, uses professional standard software, written in its own industry-standard language (PostScript) which is designed to give reliable, high quality results. Not everyone has this, or can afford it;
- the resolution (density of image and graphics information) needed for digital and litho printing needs to be much higher than for desk-top prints;
- the job needs to be handed over to your printer, a third party, in such a way that all graphics and fonts are somehow included in the file otherwise they might be absent or substituted in the final printed job!
Here are some guidelines to get over these, and other, artwork hurdles:
Use the right design & artwork software
Our first major tip would be to start off using professional design and artwork software. So rather than attempting your masterpiece with Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, you should really be using something like Adobe InDesign or Quark Express for the page layouts plus Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop respectively for any vector graphics and photographs. Of course other packages exist but those mentioned are pretty much the industry standard these days. If you do not have these packages, or the professional-level equivalent of them, then it might well be best to ask us to produce your design and artwork for you otherwise the files you supply might give you unexpected printing results.
The colour mode for photographs would usually be set in Photoshop or its equivalent.
For ‘full colour’ work (e.g. including colour photographs) all images and graphics should be saved in CMYK mode rather than RGB (the latter is for screen and will print unreliably if you use it by mistake).