Things to Avoid When Preparing Graphics for Printing

Preflight your files and graphics

How you prepare and how you package your graphics affects how your files print.

  • Compression
    Compressed images can cause problems for PostScript output devices. While they may print — eventually — it can considerably slow down your job. For best results, send your graphics in uncompressed TIFF or EPS formats.
  • Complex images
    If you have a file that contains complex images such as gradient fills or nested EPS graphics, talk to your printer ahead of time to avoid surprises. Their PostScript device may be unable to handle the image and if you know in advance you can try simplifying your file or converting it to a bitmap.
    One test of your file is printing it to your own printer. If your file won’t print to your laser printer it probably won’t be output correctly on an imagesetter.

    Even invisible parts of an image add to the complexity and can cause output problems. Delete unnecessary nodes, paths, and channels from your graphics.

  • Modifications during page layout
    It’s easy to take a graphic into PageMaker or QuarkXPress and flip it around, tilt it a little, reduce the size a smidgeon. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Each step adds to the processing time during PostScript output and increases the chances that your file won’t print properly. Rotate and resize within your graphics software before placing an image in your page layout program.
  • Resolution
    Graphics at the wrong resolution may print alright, but the resulting image is often less than acceptable. Images pulled from the Web are a common low-resolution culprit. Artifically increasing the resolution may give acceptable results on screen but the image loses quality and it becomes most obvious after high resolution printing. Too much resolution results in larger graphics files and can slow down your print job (and increase costs).

Preflight for Perfect Printing
Using the collection tools in your page layout program can help avoid problems with missing graphics. Other programs such as Extensive PreFlight Pro or Markzware FlightCheck can help you troubleshoot your files for potential output problems before they get to the printer.

With or without these preflight and collection tools developing good habits and being aware of potential pitfalls can help you generate troublefree files for PostScript output. Talk to your printer. Use uncompressed CMYK TIFF and EPS images. Include all graphics with each job. You’ll be well on your way toward painfree PostScript printing.