Special Report Printing, Paper & Production
#7 Check your files. Bob Damon, prepress instructor at Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wisc., notes, "Evidence of the importance of good digital file preparation can be seen with any job entering the production workflow. Problems with fonts, wrong graphic file formats, incorrect color modes, missing elements, and embedded font and graphic issues are compounded by poor techniques and bad file management."
Digital files being sent to a printer should be preflighted — that is, verified they're complete and accurately prepared — before they leave the cataloger's desktop.
#8 Embrace PDFs. Creating a "prepress-ready" PDF will ensure the smoothest and most reliable hand-off of your content to the printer, Damon says. But creating a PDF is a bit more complicated than just hitting the "Make PDF" icon in your desktop-publishing application. PDFs must be prepared with care, with the digital specifications of your printer appropriately applied.
"A printer can supply clients with [Adobe] Acrobat settings and preferences that should be used to improve the quality of the digital files," Damon adds. "Still, PDFs require the same careful preflighting. Since the components are actually embedded within the PDF, a preflight application that can look inside a PDF is essential."
#9 Don't let your assets manage you. Scott Seebass, CEO of Xinet, a Berkeley, Calif.-based software developer, says, "Retailers and catalogers whose inventory includes graphic assets and data that represent every SKU need a digital asset management solution that acts as the hub of catalog creation and production. Data is linked from inventory and pricing systems to product graphics, making it possible to go to market with the right offers, in a timely way."
#10 Experiment with new printing techniques. Sayin suggests using stochastic printing. Sometimes called frequency modulation screening, stochastic screening for print uses same-size dots but varies their density to create print that resembles continuous-tone (as opposed to halftone) output. In the right circumstances, stochastic printing can allow you to move to a lighter basis weight of paper without any degradation in overall image quality, which will save you paper and postage with only a slight uptick in manufacturing costs.