Want Less Work, Better Quality and Lower Costs?
Bob Tauber, sales representative at Brown Printing Co., suggests optimizing page files to the printer's front-end systems. He points out that the digital world changes rapidly, and "if you [have been] processing files the same way for more than three years, chances are you have an opportunity to save. Do you continue to specify 'application files' in your bid specs? Many printers prefer PDF or PDF/X-1a files, and price more aggressively for those files."
Russ Fisher, sales representative at Cadmus Specialty Publications, suggests that publishers specifically learn about PDF/X-1a files, which are different than PDF files. "You can have bad PDF files, but it's difficult to have bad PDF/X-1a files," he says. Taking control of your content should be of utmost importance. "PDF/X-1a saves time, money, provides a quality check on files and allows you to contact your advertisers with problems … associated with the files supplied well in advance." Printers receiving PDF/X-1a files do not have to preflight the files. The files are basically authenticated to be accurate and can be RIPped immediately.
Richie Lesovoy, production director of Future Network USA—publisher of games, computing, action sports and musician magazines and Web sites—offers a useful tip for trying to eliminate the accidental switching of spread pages when submitting single page files to the printer. "We run into the human element of submitting spread ads as single pages and numbering pages according to book folio. Sometimes the pages (left and right) get reversed by someone working too fast. We now embed the words 'left page' and 'right page' in the PDF file above and below the trim area with large type in the slug area," he says. This allows the production manager to re-check that the page numbers are correctly ordered.
Quality control is probably one of the most ill-applied concepts in production. It must be real quality control; the review and approval of materials must be detailed, exact (within defined, published specifications) and regular. Every ad, image and page must be approved from both a technical and content perspective. It's obviously better to catch errors before final processes than as a downstream error.