Markzware, the publisher of FlightCheck preflighting software to check documents of many file types for print quality control, has published articles on preflighting for common issues, such as layout graphics and images. Those of you who design layout already know that various layout problems can occur. How many times has someone asked you, “Please design my layout,” after they encountered typical layout problems, or a problem with layout elements, during their initial efforts to design a layout?
FlightCheck can thoroughly scan documents and warn of potential printing problems, including design layout problems, before printing. Today, Markzware will delve into another very important and often over-looked area of document quality control – that of the design layout itself.
II d. Layout Problems
There are a few layout problems in which you should analyze color usage during preflighting before printing color jobs. The first issue is too much color usage (the use of too many colors, common with designers who design their own layout creations). If you have a document that uses both process colors and spot colors and want to avoid a print layout problem, you need to make sure your print vendor can print the number of colors used. A good rule is to limit yourself to a total of six colors. This means that if you have process CMYK elements in your document, you will only want to use two additional spot colors. This is assuming that your print vendor can run six different colors. Again, this is the reason it is necessary to check with your printer and find out how many different colors can be printed during a single press run. Also, normally you will have been quoted for a 2-color job or a 4-color job, to which you should adhere when printing color jobs.
Another issue that should be addressed during preflighting has to do with extra colors in the document. Whether checking a document manually or with specialized preflighting software, such as the FlightCheck preflighting software by Markzware, it is a must to check all colors used in the document. It is important to preflight for extra spot colors such as Pantone inks. If a document has extra inks listed as being used in the document, they can cause two different document problems: The first is the creation of unwanted plates. If a color is listed as being used in a document, it may cause the imagesetter or CTP machine to create a plate for that color, even if it is not really used! It is common to look for these extra colors in master pages or style sheets that are not used. To eliminate this problem, be sure to delete any unused style sheets or master page before sending the document for output. Also, watch out for color usage in strange places, like in a space between text characters- it does not show up on screen, but outputs a plate!
Process and Spot Versions of the Same Color
Another possible color problem is the use of a process color version and the spot color version of the same ink in a document. An example would be when a document uses the spot version of Pantone 231 and also uses the process build of Pantone 231. These inks will not look the same when printed and may cause problems with document quality. It is impossible to reproduce a spot color with process colors and have the two colors match. Due to their properties, the color range that process inks can produce is much more limited than the color range that can be created with a single spot ink.
Preflighting with FlightCheck to Check Documents for Layout Problems before Printing
FlightCheck, preflighting software from Markzware, can check documents for color usage, extra colors, process and spot versions of the same color, color registration, ink density, broken image links, unused images, suppressed images and other document page problems
Remember to check for any elements that may have been colored Registration. This color should not be used in the page layout application, as it will image on all of the color plates, creating another page layout problem.
When preflighting a document, check for process colors that have been created with an excessively high ink density or ink coverage. Depending on how the document is to be printed and the absorbency of the paper used, the maximum ink coverage will vary. For standard sheet-fed printing, a typical maximum ink coverage is 280%. This means that no color should have more than a total ink combination of 280%. For example, a color made of 95% cyan, 55% magenta, 100% yellow and 80% black has an ink density of 320%. This will cause problems when printing color jobs, due to the amount of ink being applied to the paper in one area.
Broken Image Links
When an image is imported into a page layout application, we usually have the choice of storing an actual copy of the image in the document, or linking the image by storing the path-name to the image in the document. Because the file sizes of high-resolution images are large, it is best to link them to avoid problem layouts due to image file status problems. In order to output the document, the layout application must have access to the original image file. To make sure of this, a link is maintained between the layout document and the external file. The way these links are viewed will vary depending on the application used.
If an image file is moved or renamed, the image link will be broken. This means that the page layout application will not know where the image in the document is located. This will prevent the image from being output with the rest of the document. When an image link is broken, the page layout told where to find the image and what its name is. If an image has been modified since it was originally placed in the page layout document, the image link must be updated. If the link is not updated, problems like shifting images within an image box or difficulties in image output may occur when the document is output.
During preflighting, it is critical to check the image links. If an image is not linked properly, the document will encounter problems. These problems can range from not outputting at all to the image shifting within the picture holder. Once the image links have been updated, it is vital to check the images to ensure they are still in their original positions.
This is one of the reasons why it helps to provide laser proofs with the document. Without laser proofs, it is impossible to check the original position of the images.
Images that exist on unused master pages or style sheets should be eliminated during preflighting. Images that reside on the pasteboard area of the document should also be eliminated. These images will increase the overhead and printing time of the job.
In page layout applications, it is possible to suppress the output of individual images. During preflighting, it its necessary to make sure that all of the images in a document are set to print. Those images not set to print should be eliminated. Preflighting software for document quality control, such as FlightCheck, will check this in the image box. If you are preflighting manually, you will need to check these images individually.
Document Page Problems
When preflighting a document, it is important to check for several issues related to the pages in the document. Blank pages are the first things to check. These pages will image when the document is output and may create page layout problems and unnecessary costs. In addition to blank pages, it is important to check that the page size and the trim size match, as well as check that the paper size will appropriately accommodate the page size.
The last potential problem to be checked relating to page size is the output scaling percentage. When color proofs are created, the output percentage is often scaled down so that the registration marks and page information can be seen. It is important to check this percentage before outputting the document to ensure that it is set to print at 100%. Check out the FlightCheck page and try the free FlightCheck demo to see how FlightCheck preflighting software helps to ensure an error-free design layout before output.