Archive for March, 2010

Using (Not Misusing) Microsoft Word

March 31, 2010

Microsoft Word is a program we printers both love and hate. We love it because it has substantially improved the quality of the documents our customers bring us to have reproduced. Originals created in Word have many desirable characteristics that formerly could only be achieved with professional typesetting. Proportional spacing of letters, attributes such as italics and bold, different point sizes for headlines and body copy, special characters, and features such as sub- and superscript are all available in Word and greatly enhance the appearance of documents.

With all these benefits, it may be hard to understand why we printers sometimes shudder when we learn a document has been created in Word. In this issue of Printips, we’re going to explain why, as well as provide some useful tips on how to use Word to best advantage when you will be giving us a document to print or copy.

Marketing with Brochures: Using Folds to Tell the Story

March 30, 2010

When you think of a marketing brochure, you probably think of the standard trifold – a letter- or legal-sized sheet of paper folded in thirds, creating six pages. And while the popularity of this format is undeniable, there are other ways to fold a sheet that allow you to tell your company or product story in a completely different way.

But we’re getting a bit ahead. Whether you use a standard trifold or something more exotic, you must first analyze the information you are presenting in the brochure to determine how many segments or sections it has, which in turn indicates how many transitions will be made in the brochure. Having this information at hand as you are thinking about design and layout will guide your decision about folding.

Desktop Publishing: Idea To Execution

March 29, 2010

An important part of our printing business is to ensure that you have a professionally presented message to describe your business, organization, product, or service. Getting from your idea to the final printed piece requires a few simple steps – creating and editing the text, selecting images that illustrate the text, and putting it all together in a cohesive design. Whether you are functioning as a desktop publisher by preparing files from which we will print, or using our graphic design department, the road from idea to execution is the same. In this issue of Printips, we will travel the road together and discuss the functions required – planning, writing, design, production art, and preparation for printing.

Double Duty: Writing Copy for Advertising and PR

March 28, 2010

Consider how much writing it takes to support your company or organization’s advertising materials – brochures, direct mail pieces, newsletters, sales letters. Now consider the importance of regular, ongoing public relations activities – press releases, publicity, promotions. Wouldn’t it be nice if all that advertising copy could also be used for public relations support? In this issue of Printips, we’ll discuss advertising and public relations, and how you can write effective copy for both.

To fully understand the similarities and differences between advertising and public relations, it is useful to have a working definition of each:

Advertising: activities that bring a product, service, business, or organization to the attention of current and potential customers.

Public relations: activities that promote public understanding of a company or organization and its products or services.

Note that while advertising is focused on selling something to current and potential customers, public relations is about promoting and protecting the company or organization’s image.

Preflighting: Examining Your Documents

March 27, 2010

When you submit a document file to us, our first step is to examine it in a process we call preflight, a term borrowed from aeronautics. Before beginning a flight, aircraft pilots run through a standard checklist to be sure the plane is airworthy and ready for flight. Similarly, we inspect your file against specific criteria to qualify it as ready to enter the production workflow.

Before prepress became digital, “preflight” consisted of reviewing mechanicals – the artboards used to make film or photomechanical press plates – for quality and completeness. Preflighting a digital file amounts to the same thing: checking the file to be sure all required elements are present and that no mistakes have been made in file assembly. The checking can be done manually or with software tools.

The PDF Workflow: Preparing Documents for Print

March 26, 2010

It has been more than a decade since Adobe announced PDF version 1.0 at Comdex Fall 1992 and won the “Best of Comdex” award. Originally an internal project of Adobe Systems conceived by founder John Warnock, PDF was developed for office communication use so document files could be displayed on any computer using any operating system.

Adobe Acrobat, the tool to create and view PDF files, was first released in June 1993. Early PDF adoption came from the corporate setting, including the Internal Revenue Service, which distributed forms as PDF files. As adoption spread, support for multimedia functionality (adding audio or video data to a PDF document) was added, followed by features needed by the prepress community, then the ability to link PDF files to HTML pages on the Internet. The acceptance of PDF is best indicated by the widespread use of Adobe Reader – by 2003, over 100 million copies had been downloaded from the web.

Seven Keys to Print Buying Success

March 25, 2010

Long ago we learned that our success is directly tied to what our customers think of us compared to the experience of buying from other printers. To make our company distinctive, we’ve invested a lot in developing the technical expertise as well as the customer service skills of our inside and outside sales staff. This enables us to analyze a printing requirement with an eye toward suggesting alternatives or options that will help our customers realize success in buying printing.

Whether you buy printing regularly or occasionally, in this issue of Printips we’ll offer you some keys to successful print buying.

Building Relationships One Job at a Time

March 24, 2010

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – we love our customers. Nothing delights us as much as delivering a quality printed product on time and at the agreed-upon price. In fact, we have set up an entire production management system for the purpose of being the kind of dependable printer that businesses, organizations, and individuals need.

But did you know that you participate with us in the success of your job? Especially when you are providing critical job elements to us – a digital file, copy and photographs, or art direction – you have joined the production team. In case you’ve never thought of your relationship to us in this way, we’d like to let you know what you can expect from us and what we need from you to make your printing project go smoothly.

Fonts: Don’t Let Your Files Leave Home Without Them

March 23, 2010

Ask us or any other printer to name the top five reasons why customer-provided document files fail preflight, and you’ll always have “missing or unusable fonts” on the list. The problem is so common that we’re devoting this issue of Printips to the topic.

Digital font technology Let’s start with a brief overview of digital font technology. You probably know there are two standards for fonts: PostScript and TrueType.

PostScript was originally developed by Adobe and was engineered with two parts to each font – a screen font for rendering characters on a computer monitor and a printer font to direct a PostScript printer how to render the font on paper. In the early days, PostScript fonts gained wide acceptance in the graphic arts community because of superior resolution on output.

The TrueType font format, developed by Apple Computer and later adopted by Microsoft, was designed with the printer font and screen font created from the same information. The font technology also includes a rasterizer; it is the interaction between the font and rasterizer that determines the appearance of the font on paper. Whereas PostScript fonts required a PostScript printer to render correctly, TrueType fonts could be used on any printer. TrueType fonts have been more popular than PostScript in the corporate environment.

It’s Your Choice… Offset or Digital Printing

March 22, 2010

As a printer, our job is to have the right kind of equipment available to produce your printing project. Years ago, being a printer meant having offset printing presses. Today it also means having digital printing equipment and high-speed copiers.

For some printing projects, the choice of which equipment to use is strictly a production consideration – which piece of equipment has an opening in the production schedule at the appropriate time. For other projects, there is only one piece of equipment that can be used. And for yet others, the choice of equipment is a complicated decision based on a variety of factors.

In this issue of Printips, we’ll explore how the technology of each type of equipment helps determine its range of use.