Twice a year I lay out a cute little catalog for a publisher friend, and I’ve been doing it for four or five years, so the files have gone through several software upgrades. They were originally supplied to me as Quark XPress 4.1 docs, and I probably kept it that way for one or two issues before converting it to InDesign CS. Then the files upgraded to CS2, and then the fonts upgraded to OpenType. For the latest issue, I started the job in CS2 at home (hello, my name is India, and I am a late adopter) and then made the final round of corrections at my office, using CS3. Everything preflighted okay, and I sent the printer both PDFs and application files.
Two weeks later, I got an excited message from our rep at Kromar. They’d had some problems with the files, which they’d taken care of, but their prepress guy wanted to tell me about it. Ooh, curious! So I called back immediately, and the nice man in Winnipeg tried to explain to me what had happened.
This catalog is printed in two colors, with all the book jackets set up as duotones. Because I’m using InDesign and I can, lately I’ve been saving those duotones as .psd files instead of the venerable EPS format. Hadn’t been a problem. But this time—and I’m assuming it’s a CS3 issue, because neither I nor the printer had seen this before, and this is the first job I’ve done in CS3—something went horribly awry!
The PDFs I sent—which I created using R.R. Donnelley’s instructions, since Kromar doesn’t provide its own and Donnelley’s the most persnickety printer I’ve ever had to prepare files for—passed their preflight tests and seemed to be fine, so they were going to use them. But then, when they were checking proofs looking for something else, their technician noticed that one color had dropped out of all the duotones—the black, I think. Nutty! They poked at it for a while and then, since I had also sent application files, reopened all the PSDs, flattened them, and resaved them. The black came back. “Would saving as EPS also have worked?” I asked. Yes, since EPSs are already flat, he said. (Duh? I may have known that once . . .)
We shouldn’t have to flatten these files, we agreed—InDesign proudly supports native Photoshop files, so I’ve been sending PSDs for the last five issues, and it’s never been a problem before—but henceforth I’m going to go back to saving all duotones as EPS files, just like olden times. At least I don’t have to split each plate into a separate document, like we did in the really olden days (1998?). I’d completely forgotten about that nightmare until another designer reminded me.
So. Anybody else noticed anything weird that’s specific to CS3? Is there anything wild I should know about like that thing in CS2 with the autoplace where after page eighty or so the text would thread itself onto to the master page and everything would go to hell? Whoo! That was a startling bug to make it through beta testing—I think I managed to trigger it on the very day that I upgraded. Nobody tests layout software on books longer than eighty pages?
Also, what kind of file preparation voodoo do you do because there was that one time, five years ago, when something didn’t work right and the printer said, blah blah blah don’t do it again? For example,
- I always root out any unused fonts before packing up the files, even if they appear only in an empty box somewhere on the pasteboard.
- I try to remember to remove stray crap from the pasteboard.
- I remove any unused colors, master pages, and style sheets.
- In Quark, I used to compulsively seek any instance of the “normal” style and nuke it, by either making a style for everything or applying “no style.”
What else? I know there used to be this whole little prepress song and dance I’d do to make the rain come when I was sending a file to the printer, back when I had to send files to printers all the livelong day, but I’ve forgotten most of it, because I do so little print production now. How about you?
Sorry. Was that excessively nerdy? Here’s a Unicorn chaser.