With a Capital C
Fasano also reports that PDF/CTP production actually "reduces the amount of time that our job needs to go through the prepress end. All of the components [art, photos and typefaces] have been embedded so there are no issues with reflow or corruption. It takes me about a day to prepare all of the PDF files."
The power of two
The magazine's staff similarly demonstrates a talent of evolving for necessity's sake. "We didn't really have any concentrated 'training' because it was a gradual switch," Fasano says. "We were all able to adjust to preparing files differently. The 'production department' is basically me, so I have all of the responsibility to check the final files, but I know that 'we' are all more aware of how the file preparation affects the final printed piece."
The "we" also refers to Graphic Designer Courtney Howell, who ensures fonts are embedded, images are high-resolution and color is clean. "It's been a lot easier," says Howell, since going CTP. "Instead of having to go in and check all of the files, I can actually just place them."
She explains, "It's lessened the time, but there's more room for small errors. One thing I have to watch out for are menu fonts in Quark documents." In total, Howell records only about one-in-100 bad submissions a month—usually Word documents or low-resolution logos that are corrected by replacing images with Photoshop-ready files or simply by running documents through checking software.
Survival of the fittest
"In the early stages, what we were doing was very new and not a lot of advertisers were in the electronic age," Fasano admits. "We did a lot of up-front work preparing info sheets on what we will accept, how things need to be prepared and what needs to be included." She personally spent time talking with advertisers about file preparation, especially the smaller, local ones who she says may not have always been very computer literate. So as not to discourage these regional clients, under unique circumstances, they're encouraged to send camera-ready slicks or request that ads be prepared by the magazine. "At this point, we get about 95 percent of our ads in some digital form," she reports. "What we have done in our rate structure is to offer free production on ads, and offer a discount to clients who submit their ads to us in a digital form to our specifications. We do not want to penalize the smaller advertisers who do not have the tools to prepare a digital ad."