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Native formats for print?

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  • Native formats for print?

    As a faculty member within a graphic arts program I always stress the importance of "placing" .eps vector files and tif raster files. However, I have an increase number of students that are now "clicking and dragging" images into InDesign. On top of that they are using native format .ai files and .psd files. This can't be correct. Won't they have problems when they are attempting to output on high end devices.

    Any comments?


  • #2
    Re: Native formats for print?

    Native .ai and .psd is what is recommended by Adobe to use, and there is no problem dragging and dropping them into InDesign. .eps and .tif are what Quark has to have placed/linked, not InDesign.

    InDesign is this century. Quark is last century. As long as (in either program) you have Links and they aren't embedded (they show as a link and not showing embedded icon in the Links palette in Adobe, and Quark Picture Usage shows a link to a file), then it should be fine. Copy and pasting has been and still is a no-no (because if we don't have the links we can't fix problems that we see).

    Always save out of Photoshop with the RGB profile that's used if placing into Adobe. If placing into Quark, make sure it's been converted to CMYK, grayscale, or bitmap (for black and white logo) before placing into Quark.

    If in Adobe CS2, use North American General Purpose 2 color settings. You can use .ai and .psd and therefore not have to flatten live transparency. The future of prepress is PDF/X-4 and the Adobe PDF Print Engine, so Adobe already allows exporting a PDF 1.4 out of Adobe apps, while Quark still has to make PostScript. For this reason, Quark will eventually die if they don't allow export of PDF 1.4 or higher out of Quark in the near future, because with all this transparency, and because flattening transparency is not even done in an Adobe PDF Print Engine, prepress needs PDFs with live transparency intact, which Quark doesn't do. In short, prepress needs to be able to alter the PDF just like native files. The only PDF editor I've used that does this is Neo. File > Preflight to make sure nothing is wrong, then Package, using the contextual menu to Create Archive (OS X) of the "package" (folder and its contents), and send to prepress/printer.

    If in Quark (if you must use it, which I recommend against), use North American General Purpose 2 color settings in Photoshop (so CMYK going into Quark is SWOP), in trapping preferences uncheck process trapping and make Auto Amount and Indeterminate to both be 0pt, link to .eps or .tif in Quark, don't use RGB in Quark at all, don't make lines thinner than .25pt, don't turn on color management in Quark 6.5 at all (and don't even attempt the mess that is 7, but if you do, only work with stuff created in 7, in 7, and turn on Proof Setup to CMYK and Spot, so that you can see that untagged RGB that's placed into Quark is assuming the wrong profile, and you'll have to manually make each untagged RGB image use sRGB IEC61966-2.1 to make skin tones to not look sunurned), and do a File > Collect for Output to get links and fonts to send to prepress/printer. Again, use the contextual menu to Create Archive (OS X) of the "collected for output" folder and its contents, and send to prepress/printer.

    Hope this helps.

    Don (I've worked in prepress for over 12 years now)


    • #3
      Re: Native formats for print?

      The only thing I would change in my instructions are the CMYK profile. IF the printer provides a profile to build/convert to, then use it. If the printer doesn't provide this, then use the default SWOP profile. It's as good as you can use without the printer's profile. If printing to the international standard, then these SWOP images will look "natural" in appearance. Having said that, the best color match you can get is if all devices in the workflow have been calibrated and profiled, and those profiles are used throughout the workflow. For example, if the printer prints to GRACoL2006_Coated1v2 (official profile free download from, then you'll want to use that profile as CMYK profile in your programs, and also use it as source profile in proofing (where the destination profile in proofing is the custom proofer profile).



      • #4
        Re: Native formats for print?

        I use native formats every day to print with. No problems at all. Only with InDesign though.

        Edited by: doubting_thomas on Dec 4, 2007 10:50 PM


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