SWOP for the New Millennium
Hot off the presses, SWOP's [Specifications for Web Offset Publications] eagerly awaited rewritten specification, is now available. The new guide was created as it should have been, notes Joel Rubin, SWOP's chairman: "The booklet was produced using TIFF/IT-P1 files and digital proofs made from SWOP-certified digital proofing devices. Even a large number of the photographs you'll find in the specification were taken with digital cameras. When we were preparing to produce the guide, we thought it was important to practice what we preach."
SWOP's mission has been clear since its founding in 1975, and it's emphasized in the new SWOP specification: "The mission of SWOP is to continually raise the level of quality of publication printing by setting forth specifications and tolerances." SWOP 2001 details guidelines for all aspects of the publishing workflow-regardless of whether the product is produced by analog or digital means, although SWOP is leading the charge to digital in no small part—including trapping, screen rulings and angles, gray balance, proofing, file formats, color management and much, much more.
Since SWOP last published its specifications, the group has been hard at work listening to and digesting the input from across the industry. Among the guide's new specifications is a section outlining print contrast, which better defines tonal curves. Also included is section devoted to explaining SWOP's proofing certification program and a bold foray into file formats: SWOP mandates two acceptable digital ad formats: PDF/X-1 and TIFF/IT-P1. Application files are no longer welcome.
SWOP 2001 also clearly defines responsibilities, as they relate to the specifications, of agencies/advertisers, publishers, prepress suppliers and publication printers—two pages chock full of useful guidance that's well-worth the $12 per copy.
Publishers, agencies, suppliers and vendors all take part in the development of SWOP specifications, Rubin points out. Many of SWOP's members have participated since its inception, but the group craves new blood. "We need people to get involved in this organization," Rubin adds. "Two years ago, we surveyed the industry and found that there is tremendous meaning to what SWOP has done in the past. We were pleased to learn that SWOP is perceived as an extremely worthwhile activity. To ensure its relevance in the future, we must have new participants continue the efforts we've established."