As a graphic designer, has this ever happened to you? The scenario: You’ve sent your marketing masterpiece that you have meticulously designed to your printer. The deadline is tight, but you made it. Then the phone rings. It’s your printer calling to let you know that they are having problems printing your piece. You are about ready to scream because the client is waiting to get this piece out to his customers. What are some of the problems, you ask the printer. The response: You’ve sent low-resolution graphics, missing files and type are not included in the graphic items, and you’ve sent missing files and type are not included in the graphic items, and you’ve sent missing or stylized fonts. “Ugh,” you say. “How come I didn’t know that the file I created was improperly prepared and has become a can of worms?”
Most organizations rely on direct mail to deliver their message to potential and current clients. This thought is critical in the design process. As marketers search for ways to gain greater customers response, the graphics on direct mailers are key in catching the recipient’s eye. This puts a great burden on designers. Not only do they have to create stunning graphics, they also have to be responsible for helping the company achieve bottom-line financial goals.
Preflighting (checking digital files before sending them to a service bureau) is designed to analyze desktop publishing files and to flag any potential problems before outputting. Preflighting the layout program is crucial on a number of levels as it can easily help prevent missed deadlines and costly mistakes. Improperly prepared files account for a majority of all prepress problems. Clean files are necessary for both digital printing and computer-to-plate printing.
To follow the basic rules of print production, preflighting utility programs should be used to check designs. A systematic check of files before they go to a print vendor or are printed in-house is the best way to ensure error-free output.
One of the easiest ways to save is to pay close attention to prepress expenses. The costs of film, direct-to-plate or creating postscript files for print are enormous. And when there is a problem and film has to be re-output or a plate remade, the costs add up.
The printed word is still the most reliable format for reaching potential audiences. Its potential for creating eye-catching flyers and marketing material has been greatly enhanced by digital technologies. Page layout programs, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe’s InDesign, have helped streamline the design and production process, which encompasses acquiring materials, designing the piece and checking the integrity of the file before final print.
Preflighting the design just takes moments and those few seconds can save graphic professionals hours of misery fixing problems that will show up after film or plates are created. The financial savings in time and materials can be tremendous to marketers eager to get the message in the hands of potential new customers.
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Mary Gay Marchese