Re: Layout duties
I have a similar layout problem. However, my frustration is with our
contracted printing service, not with the approval process. Because I'm
relatively new to the document producing game I don't have much experience
dealing with printers (is that the correct term for the profession?).
Yes, a printer is a person or company that prepares your work for printing and then prints it. Unfortunately, "Send the job to the printer" can now mean either "Press the Print key" or "Deliver your files to the printing company"; so it is important to ensure your meaning is not ambiguous.
responsible for document layout and I produce what I think are print-ready
PDF files and supply them to our printer. I have recently discovered that
the composition folks at the print shop deconstruct the PDF files and
reassemble the data in QuarkXpress, which explains why sometimes the printed
documents do not resemble my original PDFs.
Can anyone tell me why a printer would not use a print ready PDF file?
There are several possible reasons. It may be that your pages are not as prepared as you think they are, or it may be that you are dealing with a printer whose workflow does not handle PDFs very well. If it is the latter case, you will need to find a different vendor. But, given your inexperience, let's assume for the moment that the fault lies in your files.
Do you have color illustrations or spot color in the book? If so, what software are you using to prepare the color illustrations, what software are you using to lay out your pages (Word? Frame? Other?) and what file formats are the original illustrations that you are putting into the PDF?
For black and white illustrations, same question: what file format do they start out as?
Do your pages have consistent margins, consistently placed headers and footers, a folio (page number) on every page, registration marks, crop marks?
Do you have page elements (illustrations, etc.) that bleed, that is, run off the edge of the trimmed paper? If so, you need to design them to extend past the edge of the page by 1/8 inch.
Do you embed your fonts in the PDF? Do you ship the fonts separately to the printer? Do you use common fonts that the printer already has?
What Distiller settings do you use to prepare the PDF?
If your PDFs fail one or more of these tests, then the printer may be doing you the "service" of correcting them rather than risk offending you by telling you what he needs changed. In this case, you should simply ask the printer how you can improve the files you send.
On the other hand, if your files are fine but the printer doesn't have proper imposition software to handle your PDFs directly, then you need to find a printer who does.
a more general level, can anyone advise me as to what information a printer
needs from me so that s/he can produce the documents as I have already laid
See above. The printer MAY need your original illustration files (depends on the nature of the illustrations and the type of press). The printer MAY need you to provide the fonts you use separately (but embedding fonts in the PDF should be sufficient). The printer MAY need you to supply pages with crop marks and registration marks.
But the only way to know for sure is to have a conversation with the printer and ask explicitly what is needed.
Also, what should I expect from the printer in terms of a proof
For simple jobs, you may be able to get by with a fax of the pages, demonstrating that nothing was left out and the pages are in order. For more complicated jobs, you should get a blueline proof or a match print (color proof) that represents exactly what will be burned on the printing plates. This is your chance to look for stray spots, film scratches, etc., in addition to ensuring that there are no gross omissions, misinterpretations of your directions, etc. These proofs cost extra and need to be specified in the quote.
I guess what I really need is a firm tutorial in writer-printer relations,
or how the printing process works.
A professional printer (and they're not all professional) is your partner in producing superior work. Treat the printer with respect; ask questions when you don't understand something; ask what you can do to improve the process.
The printer can provide guidance, but the printer's only ethical responsibility is to reproduce exactly what you submit. Garbage in, garbage out, just like with data processing. I worked at one time for a rather colorful printer who instructed his keyboard operators, "If the manuscript says, 'shit the door,' instead of 'shut the door,' type 'shit the door.'" [Hmmm, I wonder how many corporate filters are going to send me nastygrams for THAT one.]
These days, however, with most work being submitted electronically and the bulk of it being submitted by people like you who have no background or experience in printing, a lot of printers try to do minor repairs to submitted files rather than trying to educate their customers. So your best bet is to be candid and ask the printer to help you be a better customer.
Are there any good resources anyone can
Adobe has a number of useful publications, some of which are packed with their software and some of which are available through booksellers.
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Layout duties: From: pape
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