Desktop Publishing Tips and Tutorials · DTP Potpourri

What this is about:

Are you confused regarding the many "rules" for Desktop Publishing, both on and off the web? If you want to excel in the DTP field, you need a good mix of knowledge in typography, grammar, design, paper, service bureaus, print shops, marketing, and client needs. New to desktop publishing and the world of print shops? Don't have a clue about paper weight, finish, and the right uses for them? Let's see if any of the following tips will help your print shop complete your jobs efficiently and effectively.

Your Desktop Publishing Glossary

by Judy Vorfeld

Type Kerning KERNING: adjusts the spacing between a selected series of letter pairs for the purpose of improving their appearance when printed. It's also called letterspacing. Typically, some letter pairs, especially when enlarged and used for headings, do not appear evenly spaced. Even if everything else in your document is perfect, if you don't have good kerning, you short-change your client, and yourself.

FONTS: If you're sending your file to a service bureau, you may need to convert your TrueType fonts to PostScript fonts. Most DTP-type software programs offer instructions on how to save to a PostScript printer. Make sure you spend time with the service bureau or prepress service provider to verify that you have compatible operating systems and compatible software, and that you speak the same language (typographically).

LEADING: (pronounced "ledding") is the spacing between lines. The default for most software programs is one space. You have a great deal of freedom using leading in most software.

MEMORIZE WINDOWS ANSI CHARACTERS: You can speed up your work by memorizing a few of the frequently used characters. Be aware that not all font styles contain each and every character. Hold down the ALT key, then punch in the following four characters on your numeric keypad (the character will appear once the ALT key is released):

Note: To see a complete list of ANSI characters, go to Character Entity References in HTML 4 and XHTML 1.0.

PROOFING: Check to see that all document headings are in the same case. If your document uses all caps for headings, make sure you don't have any headings with mixed cases. It happens.

“Most print shop owners silently celebrate when people call for a quote and give them a work order truly descriptive of what's needed.” — Judy Vorfeld

For proofing format and layout, you might find it economical to use a product such as FinePrint. This small but effective software offers many printing options, including two up, four up, etc. There are other snazzy functions as well, including the ability to print a number of commonly used watermarks on the pages. Expect savings on paper, toner, filing space, time, and wear on your printer.

CAMERA READY ARTWORK: If you provide clients with finished artwork that will go to a print shop, you want the finest contrast possible. Use bright white paper. There are many fine products, but I especially like Hammermill Color Copier paper. With 96 brightness (Photo White) and a weight of 28/70, it's a winner.

LASER PRINTING: If you're serious about DTP, laser printing is the way to go: no spotting, chipping, etc., and much better resolution than inkjet.

Paper, Envelopes, Binding, and Printing

New to Desktop Publishing and the world of print shops? Don't have a clue about paper weight, finish, and the right uses for them? Most print shop owners and managers silently celebrate when people call for a quote and give them a work order truly descriptive of what's needed; in printer's terms. Let's see if any of the following tips will help your print shop complete your jobs efficiently and effectively.

BRIGHTNESS: Indicates how much light the paper reflects. The 20 lb. stock most of us use daily has 84 brightness and is generally uncoated. One of my favorites when something's going to the print shop (camera ready): Hammermill Color Copier 28 lb. with 96 brightness. Another is Weyerhaeuser 28 lb., 94 white. Both are considered multi-use, and are excellent for quality and contrast.

CAST COATED: Paper with a finish similar to a glossy photograph. COATED: Paper with a clay slurry applied to the surface. They range from very shiny to very dull. Glossy papers, such as those used for many high-quality four-color brochures, are all coated. They can be very light in weight, but are sturdy and opaque.

“Printing professionals are a separate and highly skilled group of people. Treat them with respect and you'll have a friend for life.” — Judy Vorfeld

FINISH: Refers to the paper's surface characteristics. Laid finish is a grid of parallel lines simulating the surface of handmade paper. Linen finish has a cross weave. Consult with your print shop manager to determine which kind of finish is best for your job. And save yourself grief: if you're having letterhead printed for someone who will output using an inkjet printer, get the right paper.

GRADE: There are seven categories of paper: bond, uncoated book, coated book, text, cover, board, and specialty. KRAFT: Strong brown paper used both for wrapping and to create paper bags. STOCK: Another word for paper.

WEIGHT: The thickness of the paper, designated in pounds. The lower the weight, the less manageable the paper. The higher the weight, the more opaque the paper. Cover is thicker than the same weight in book, bond or offset. Quality letterhead is anywhere from 24 to 32 lbs.

ENVELOPES: The most popular business envelopes (9½ x 41/8 inches) are called #10 envelopes. The next most popular size is around 6 x 9 inches. From this size and larger, they're usually manufactured in either Catalog or Booklet style. Catalog style opens on the shorter side of the envelope and is used for catalogs, large booklets and heavy enclosures inserted by hand. Booklet style opens on the longer side of the envelope and is used mainly for reports, brochures, literature or similar printed material.

BINDING: GBC binding includes plastic combs, color coil, twin loop, VeloBind/SureBind or Therm-A-Bind. Other types of binding include saddle stitch, spiral, and perfect. Saddle stitch binds by stapling sheets where they fold at the spine. The perfect binding method uses strong glue to hold the pages to the cover at the spine. Example: most paperback and hard cover books.

Binding Machine

OFFSET PRINTING: is a commonly used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (called "fountain solution"), keeping the non-printing areas ink-free.

BINDERY: Either a separate part of a large print shop, or a separate business that binds, folds, trims, etc.
BLEED: Printing that extends to the edge of the document. Expect extra time and cost if you design this way.
COLLATION: If you have anything to be collated, plan on extra time. This kind of job often goes to a bindery.

COLOR: What you produce on your color inkjet printer usually will not photograph effectively. The colors look quite different when shot with a camera. Talk with your print shop about this, but be prepared to provide them with all black copy when additional colors are used. The print shop has additional challenges with tight registration (e.g., where two colors adjoin each other).

COPY: Everything that will be printed; text, artwork, and photographs.
DIE CUTTING: Cutting shapes in paper (as for the insertion of a business card). Allow extra time and expect to pay more for this feature.
FOLDING: Sometimes your print shop has its own folding machines, but not always. Make allowances for extra time if they have to send it to a bindery or other specialty business.
SCORING: Compresses the paper along a line for later folding.
STAPLING: If this is a requirement in your job, give it extra time, since it may have to go to a bindery.

One way to find out more about what your print shop does is to get one of their blank order sheets. Take it home and study it. Use the glossary shown here. The more information you have when you ask for a quote or order a job, the easier it will be for you and your print shop to work together. Printing professionals are a separate and highly skilled group of people. Treat them with respect and you'll have a friend for life.



Judy Vorfeld (aka Webgrammar), owns Editing and Writing Services, a home-based business specializing in the value of good grammar usage. Services include typing, copyediting, Web analysis, renovation, and design. She also works with foreign Web site editors when translated text needs clarification for the American English audience.