It happens all the time. Someone emails us a file with a note that says “print this please.” More often than not, the file prints fine. But when it doesn’t, it’s usually due to one or more common mistakes. The following are the top 3 reasons your file is not “camera ready” and therefore might not print exactly as expected.
1. Linked objects
Some files contain links to objects that, for whatever reason, were not included. When you send us a native file (e.g., one from Adobe InDesign (.indd)), make sure you include everything you used to create it. Most linked objects which get “forgotten” are high-resolution images. Rather than embedding every image in your Indesign file, you linked to some of the largest ones. So we end up printing low-res image placeholders rather than the high-res images you had intended to print. When this happens it obviously can affect the quality of the finished product.
What you see on your monitor’s screen is not what gets sent to the printer. You’re looking at a backlit screen which uses the RGB color model, while printers use a different color model — CMYK. So if precisely matching colors is important to you (let’s say your brand uses a unique colored logo) your file will need to be correct from a color perspective. And if it is crucial, you’ll likely need to spend some time with us working on color matching before we print the final job.
The number one problem we run into with print quality issues is fonts (actually, lack thereof is more accurate). There are literally thousands of fonts, and we don’t have them all. When you create a document on your desktop or laptop, and then you print it on our machines, unless we have every font you used in creating it, it just won’t print the same. Our machines will substitute similar fonts for any that are missing, and this will change the appearance of your print. Sometimes the change is minimal, other times it completely ruins the job.
So what’s the easiest way to make sure a document will print as expected? Convert it to a PDF X-1/a compliant file and pre-flight it on your end. (Note: look for issues relating to transparencies. X1-a is a fairly old standard and some of today’s more complicated art files will run into problems with it.)
When you do convert to a PDFX compliant file you are essentially correcting each of these issues before the file is sent to the printer, and we’re both happier for it!