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Still Dave

10th of October 2000

     We get mail. For example, this from a student in Las Vegas. "I am going to school for graphic design/webpublishing. I am trying to learn more about "print" to do catalogs for my cosmetic business. Print is a lot different from the web. Could you give me some pointers about printing catalogs. I'm looking to do a layout of 5.5"x8.5" and I found out that it is best to print on 80# glossy. I know I need to use CMYK colors and I need to save my images in bmp format. Is there anything else I should know? Thanks for any help you can give me."

     You're in luck. One of the Internet Brothers, me, is a professional printer. I'll try to fill you in a little on how to prepare for a printing project such as the catalog you mentioned.

     First, if you're going to do the layout yourself, you'll need professional-level page layout software. Your friendly neighborhood printer will try not to laugh at you when you bring him a "Microsoft Publisher" document and ask for a bid, while politely telling you he can't help. Microsoft Publisher (and similar programs) is purely for amateur work when you're planning to print something yourself at home on your inkjet or laser printer.

      Quark Xpress is used by nearly all printers these days. If you show up with a Quark document, you'll be treated like you know what you're doing. To a limited extent, Adobe InDesign and Pagemaker are being used, but not nearly as much as Quark. In recent years, PDF files are an option for pre-press purposes, and within five years, PDF will probably replace PostScript as the default formatting for pre-press. So, if you have software that has the capability of saving in PDF format, you're probably good to go, even if you're not using one of the three programs mentioned in this paragraph. Check with the printing companies you plan to get bids from and provide a sample document. See if they can work with it before you design your whole catalog.

     Contrary to what you said, image files, particularly on Apple Macintosh computers, should typically be saved as .tiff and not .bmp. This is not as true with Windows documents, but most pre-press service bureaus and plate output devices prefer .tiffs. This is a moot point if you're providing PDF files, as the images and fonts are embedded together. There is no need for separate image files or fonts with PDF. Speaking of fonts, Type 1 PostScript fonts are usually preferred over TrueType fonts.

     One last word on PDF files if you go that route. Not all PDF files can be separated into the four process printing colors (CMYK). If you plan to use software that creates PDF's, make sure they can be separated, again before designing your whole catalog.

     As for your 5.5 x 8.5 layout, typically, you'll want to design with two pages side by side on 8.5 x 11. If it's a sixteen page stitched catalog, page one will be right of page 16 and page two will be left of page 15, etc. That's something your local printer can explain in more detail. Talk to your printer before you start the design. They'll be glad to help, if they want your business.

     For additional information, visit the Internet Brothers Desktop Publishing tutorials in the Helpware section. Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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