Re: Graphics formats for Word and problems printing from PDF

Subject: Re: Graphics formats for Word and problems printing from PDF
From: "Jonathan West" <jwest -at- mvps -dot- org>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 20:35:57 +0000

> It may sound primitive, but I work mostly in MSWord.

Not at all! Those who think Word is primitive don't know it. Cranky &
counterintuitive at times yes, but not primitive :-)

> I've been having some problems with line-drawing graphics that come
> from a technical illustrator. She is presumably working in
> Illustrator. What format should she give me for placing the
> illustrations in the Word Doc. WMF? Or?

This is a simple question, but unfortunately the answer is not so simple.

If you don't mind not being able to view the graphic in the Word
editing window, then you can insert an EPS file directly. It will
print perfectly happily if you have a Postscript printer, and
similarly should convert to PDF without a hitch.

But if your output is going to be viewed in Word (including drafts for
review) then you really need graphics that will show up properly in
the Word editing window. This is where things start to get sticky.

If the technical illustrator is working on a Mac (in my experience,
they normally do) then there is no good format that she can send you
that can be directly incorporated into Word. This is because the
export of EMF and WMF from Illustrator for Mac is abominably
inaccurate (though it might have improved in the latest version). In
such cases, my approach is to ask the artworker to send an Illustrator
EPS file, which I then open in Illustrator for PC, and export to EMF
myself. That means I can get the best possible results by controlling
the parameters of the conversion myself. The cost of a copy of
Illustrator for PC I count as part of my overhead. If you need colours
to be as accurate as possible, ask for the EPS file to use RGB colours
rather than CMYK or Pantone, as EMF and Word both only understand RGB.
This is especially important if colours in the graphic need to match
colours in the text (e.g. of headings or captions). Best that they are
both the same RGB values.

If the graphics will be included in Word documents viewed on a Mac in
addition to Windows, convert to WMF rather than EMF.

If there is a lot of fine detail in the graphic, a useful trick is to
expand the graphic to 4x normal size before converting, and shrink the
graphic back after insertion into Word. This seems to render the
detail more accurately and makes little difference to the file size.

> And photos - what format should they be in? JPEG? TIFF? PNG? I've
> been using JPEGs and they come out looking bad sometimes, even if
> fairly high resolution.

JPEG, downsampled to the resolution necessary for the printer it will
be printed on. 300 dpi will be more than adequate for almost all
purposes, and if the output is going to be printed on ordinary office
laser printers 150dpi is as much as you need. Remember that if you are
inserting a photo into a smaller space that it would naturally take
up, you need to downsample the image either before or after insertion,
both to keep file sizes reasonable, and to prevent the photo rendering
horribly slowly when the document (having been converted to PDF) is
viewed in Acrobat Reader.

> I'm also having issues with the current printer -- usually a printer
> tells me what settings to use for making a PDF she'll be printing
> from, but the current printer can't tell me, and has been complaining
> about the quality of the doc. Any idea how I could find out what the
> Distiller settings should be? I've tried "high quality print" preset
> selection & printer is still complaining.

Complaining at you is NBG unless they can tell you what they actually
want from you.

I would try placing some business with a different print company,
someone who will tell you want Distiller settings they want you to

> Also, one doc when printed has some very fine vertical, parallel,
> broken lines that show up on the proof off the digital printing
> system on random pages. I'm baffled about this and think it must be
> the digital printing system.
> Anybody have any ideas?

Simple diagnostic process. If it doesn't show up when viewing the PDF,
doesn't show up when you print the PDF, and doesn't show up when you
directly print the Word document to your own printer, then there must
be something about their print system which is causing it. Another
reason to try another print firm.

Jonathan West

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
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Graphics formats for Word and problems printing from PDF: From: Barbara Donohue

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