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So you think your document is ready to print, but is it really? A couple of decades ago, my friend and colleague Chuck Wager coined a term that stuck in this industry's lingo when he talked about preflighting a document to ensure that it was prepared properly. But you don't have to wait to just before you print to do a preflight. As it turns out, InDesign is preflighting your documents all the time, behind the scenes. See that little red light down in the lower left corner of your document window, and it says two errors? That's your preflighting going on.
Two errors; well, what are they? Well, if you double-click on that little red light, up comes the Preflight panel, and the Preflight panel lists all the errors in the document. I can see that there are two text errors. If I would click on that little twirly triangle, it will open up, and it shows me there are two overset text frames. Open the triangle one more time, and we see we've got two text frames; one over here on page 6, and 1 on page A. That's probably master page A. If I click on one of those, the Info area shows me that this text frame is 20 characters overset.
It also suggests a fix: go ahead and resize the text frame, or edit it. Well, that's kind of obvious. But knowing that it's 20 characters is helpful. Sometimes it says it's just one or two characters; sometimes it says it's a thousand. It's good to know how overset that frame is. I can jump right to that text frame by clicking on that blue 6. Takes me to the frame, move this out of the way a little bit, and we can see, I should just make this a little bit taller. There we go; the overset goes away, and the error goes away in the Preflight panel. Let's look at this other one too.
This jumps me to the master page. There seems to be a text frame here which is completely overset; no text at all. Just make that a little bit bigger. Oh yes; well, I suppose I don't need that, do I? Let's go ahead and delete it. I will just hit the Delete key, and you can see the error goes away from my Preflight panel. Now I have got a green light, but what does the Preflight panel really look for; just overset text? No, it looks for other things too. And we can see that by going to Preflight panel flyout menu, and choosing Define Profiles. I can see two profiles built in here: Basic, and Digital Publishing, and Basic, which is what documents get by default, checks for a couple of things.
For example, here in the text area, I can see that it's looking for any frames that are overset, any fonts that are missing, and any unresolved caption variables. Caption variables are an advanced topic that we are not going to cover in this title. I can also see that it's looking for things wrong with links; for example, links that are missing, or modified. But the real power in preflighting is that you can create your own custom preflight profiles. To do that, you click on this little plus symbol, you name it whatever you want to call it, and then you choose what you want it to look for.
I am going to search for all the things that Basic was searching for, in other words, I will leave these checkboxes turned on, but I am going to add a couple more. For example, I will open COLOR, and I can say that I only want to find CMYK colors. I don't want there to be any spot colors in here. Open the Color Spaces and Modes Not Allowed, and turn that on, and then I'll click on Spot color. In other words, if there is a spot color in this document, it's going to find it. Let's scroll down a little bit more, and see if there is anything else we want to look for. I am going to find if there is any white or paper color that's been set to overprinting; that's bad. And I am also going to search for any place that the registration color was used; that's also bad.
Sometimes people use registration instead of black accidentally; we want to find that. Let's open Images and Objects, and I am going to say, look for an Image Resolution problem. For example, right now this is set to look for any images that have a resolution lower than 250 pixels per inch. Another problem I am going to look for is Minimum Stroke Weight. I want to say, I don't want to have any stroke weights in my document smaller than a quarter point. As you can see, there are a lot of things you can search for in your custom Preflight Profile.
I will leave it there for now, though, and I'm going to click OK. To make InDesign use that profile, I choose it from the Profile pop-up menu inside the Preflight panel. There it is: My Happy Profile. It now very quickly goes through my whole document, and finds all the errors. It found a couple of them. For example, it found two instances of a spot color that was used. If I click on page 3, you could see, it takes me right to this word. That text has a spot color applied to it. So maybe I want to fix the color swatch, make it not a spot color, or maybe choose a different color instead.
Also, down here, I can see that there are some images and objects that are wrong. Two images that have too low resolution; I'll click on one of them, and you can see the rule is that color images must be at least 250, but this one is only 190. So you can make some decisions about that; is that something you want to change? And finally, here's the stroke weight too small. There must be a little line in here somewhere where the stroke weight is too small. I will click on it, it takes me right to it, and selects it, and I can see in the control panel that this one was set to a stroke of 0.1, and remember, I said I wanted this to be no smaller than a quarter point.
Of course, the Preflight panel can't find everything that might be wrong in your document. You still need to proofread the file carefully, and use your own discretion, but preflighting does mean that you'll never miss another overset frame, or a too low resolution image again.
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