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Before you send the job off to the printer, you want to make sure that it's going to print correctly. Mainly, you want to make sure that all of your colors are going to separate in the right way. Well, in Illustrator CS4, Adobe added a Separations Preview panel. You can access it by going to the Window menu and then choosing Separations Preview. Now in this document, I actually have one Pantone color being used, plus I have other process colors being used as well. In order to activate Separations Preview, you need to turn Overprint Preview on. I'll do that by just clicking on the button right here in the panel itself. You will notice that I have these little eyeballs that appear to the left of each of these color plates. For example, if all I want to see is just what my Pantone plate is going to look like, I could turn off CMYK altogether. I can also toggle on individual plates as needed.
Now Separations Preview is pretty simple in what it can do. It's nowhere near as robust as the same exact feature that might be found inside of InDesign or even Acrobat. In other words, you will see that right now in my Swatches panel, I only have one Pantone color. But if I were to have, let's say, five Pantone colors, even though they are not used in my document, the Separations Preview panel will still list them in this list. So while the actual preview itself is very accurate, I'll find it easier to remove any Pantone or Spot Colors that I'm not going to be using. To turn off Separations Preview, just uncheck Overprint Preview button and you are back to work.
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