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Preparing your job for the printer

From: Print Production Essentials: Packaging

Video: Preparing your job for the printer

As you're finishing up your project in, InDesign, it's time to get it ready to send to the printer. And, of course, you should be following the printer specifications. Provide the amount of bleed that they've asked for. If you're accustomed to adding and 8th of an inch bleed to standard print jobs, you may find that, especially if you're working on larger cartons, you may be asked to add more than an 8th of an inch bleed. So make sure you know how much the printer wants. Now they may ask you to outline text, and that might be something you're unaccustomed to.

Preparing your job for the printer

As you're finishing up your project in, InDesign, it's time to get it ready to send to the printer. And, of course, you should be following the printer specifications. Provide the amount of bleed that they've asked for. If you're accustomed to adding and 8th of an inch bleed to standard print jobs, you may find that, especially if you're working on larger cartons, you may be asked to add more than an 8th of an inch bleed. So make sure you know how much the printer wants. Now they may ask you to outline text, and that might be something you're unaccustomed to.

But one of the reasons is that a carton might be printed anywhere in the world. If you have product that's being distributed internationally, maybe all the cartons won't be printed in one place and this guarantees that it will be portable. So, let's take a look at how you do that in InDesign. Here I am in InDesign and I wanted to make it easy on myself, so I put all my text in one layer. So when I turn off and on you can see my text is in a particular layer. And that also makes it really easy for me to select it all at once.

All I have to do is click on that little square, and look, it selects all my little text frames. And to convert this to outlines, all I have to do is go to Type, choose Create Outlines. And you can see it starts to look a little bit thicker, and your little hint that there are outlines, you can see a little rim around each letter. So, it looks like text, but now it's really just little vector shapes. So, as you might expect, it's a good idea for you to run Spell Check first make sure that everything's the way you need it in your text.

And also, all these things that we're doing here at the end of the job, that you do before you send to the printer, you might want to keep two files. One that's your separate working live file, and then one that you do things like this to before you send to the printer. Because that way you can always go back if you need to re-flow your text, if you need to change any of the copy, you want to be able to do that in your live file. You want to make sure that you've worked in the correct color space. Now, even though we see more and more color management schemes, which let you work in RGB, you may be asked to work in CMYK.

So, be sure that all of your images have been converted to CMYK, and make sure that any of the colors you've spec'd are CMYK or Spot. Usually it's alright to use Spot colors, but general caution and this is not just for package work. If you pick a color out of the pan tone book but then you print as process, usually you're going to see that color change. So it's a good idea early on, either pick from a process book, that's really the best advice. Or if you've picked from a spot pan tone book, convert it to CMYK before you send the job out.

And, of course, you want to be sure to save to the correct version and format. You should check your file regardless of whether it's a package or a regular print job. You want to check for any preflight errors, you want to make sure that all of your images are linked. You want to make sure that you're not missing any fonts and anything else that your preflight profile complains about. And it's a good idea to delete any extraneous swatches, just to kind of clean house. So here in my InDesign file, I am going to take a look at my Swatches panel, and I have a bunch of swatches.

And these are left over from when I was doing some experiments with the colors but now I know how I want this to go. So, just to make it easier on the person at the printer, so that they know what they're working with, I'm going to clean house by going to this Swatches Panel menu, and choosing Select All Unused. You can see they're all highlighted, and just click on the little trash can at the bottom. There, that's much better. Now, some of these have been named according to RGB values, but they're not actually going to print RGB. And we can tell that because of the appearance of this little guy here.

Again, just so you don't panic, the person who looks at it. just come back in and let's just name this something like Green. See, all the little swatches that were based on it, all the little tints, they pick up that same name. Now, the only spot colors I have are the cut and fold that came in when I brought my die line in. That's not going to be a problem. Again, it's a good idea to get rid of stuff that you don't need, so I'm going to get rid of any empty layers I might have in my file. When I take a look at my Layers Panel, you can see I have Layer 6.

And we suspect perhaps there's nothing in Layer 6. When I turn that off. there's nothing there, but its a good idea to double check. Let's look at Layer 6 by itself. Instead of having to turn off all the other layers by hitting the little eyeball control, if you just want to look at one layer, if you hold down Option or Alt, and click on the little eyeball, the little visibility control that hides everything else. You can see if I Select All, there's nothing there. So it's safe to get rid of this layer. I just Option or Alt click on that little eyeball control again.

And that toggles all the other layers on. And then I'll just select that and get rid of it. There we go. And finally, it's a good idea to get rid of any junk in the paste board. Every graphic that you bring in to InDesign adds a little bit to the file size, not because it's embedded, but because the little proxy that's generated to represent it, that is embedded, in the InDesign file. So, part of the reason for doing this is to reduce your file size. So here back in InDesign you can see that I have a couple little experiments out in the paste board.

I'm going to get rid of them. Partly to reduce my file size, but also when you do a package on InDesign files, it doesn't gather up things that are in the pasteboard because it figures you don't care about them. That can lead to an error message on the other end, which really isn't true. It'll tell you that you're missing something that's in the pasteboard that doesn't count, make it easy on the guy on the other end, just delete this. So, now I'm in good shape and my next step, of course, would be to save this in a format that the printer has asked for.

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Print Production Essentials: Packaging

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Claudia McCue
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