In part two of our PDF feature, learn about some of the hurdles you'll have to leap to implement a PDF workflow in both the offset and toner-based environments. (See part one here.)
by Heath Cajandig
LAST MONTH, I discussed the history of the Portable Document Format (PDF) and the challenges it was created to overcome. But in the real world, can PDF files make things faster, easier and more efficient?
First of all, let's talk about PDF in the offset environment. The promise of the PDF is that it can be created by a customer and then RIPed and printed by the in-plant without any preflighting. In fact, most new raster image processors (RIPs) can RIP native PDF files, then trap, separate and image them to plate.
If only it was really that easy.
A good PDF is a combination of good design and correct Distiller settings. When it comes to creating a press-quality PDF, the process actually starts at the beginning of designing the layout.
On the positive side, PDF files do include all of the required resources. So it does deliver on the promise of making the exchange from the customer to the printer easier.
However, when moving from the digital toner world to ink, regardless of the file format, spot colors and other design elements must be properly set up. This is done in the applications themselves before a PDF is created. A PDF is only as good as the source file used to make it.
Other elements such as duotones, multi-channel spot color, multi-color gradients and multiple master fonts cannot be represented accurately in a PDF file. Don't try to handle these elements in a PDF file, as it will fail.
Use Industry Standard Software
Using an industry standard layout package such as Quark or PageMaker is very important when creating a solid layout. That sounds great, but all of us have customers that use programs like Microsoft Word, Publisher or WordPerfect to create their layouts.