Hello graphic arts enthusiasts!
Just a quick note on work habits today... this is something you’d think could go without mentioning, but it’s a constant problem and I see it just as often in files from professional designers as I do in the submissions of total amateurs. It’s something you probably should’ve learned in day care or kindergarten, if not from your parents:
Be creative, have fun, try new things, feel free to play with ALL of your toys at once, but when you're done, CLEAN UP YOUR AREA!!!
It was a good rule then, and it’s a better rule now.
In the case of grown-ups submitting files for print, the toys would be your software of choice, and your “area” would be the pasteboard, that region of your document that’s not really “on the page”.
Most of you are probably working in InDesign or Quark, and I don’t know where you grew up or how they did things there, but you’re leaving your documents in a state. I’m finding unlinked graphics and photos off to the side, and empty text boxes with strange fonts and styles assigned to them. Sometimes you shove them WAAAYYY over to the left or right, but they’re still there, and they still cause problems. All these unlinked, unused things cause error messages to pop up during pre-press, which means your pre-press time and charges are greater, just because you couldn’t be bothered to clean up your document. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
I know, I know, those elements won’t affect the printing, because they’re not on the page, but the pre-press guy doesn’t know that. All he or she knows is that an error is present, and the offending item has to be tracked down and repaired (if on the page) or deleted (if it’s off-page), and that takes time, and that time can cost you money.
And we haven’t even mentioned layers yet.
Layers are rarely used by the amateurs, but designers LOVE THEM. They are indeed a handy thing, when one is building a document that must be used over and over, with most elements remaining the same, and small details like a logo or two being switched out as needed. You can build all the permanent parts on layers that can be locked in for all time, and place all your variable data on it’s own layer(s). Not a problem. The problem occurs when you leave layers in your document that contain nothing, or are filled with things that don’t print but you just forgot to delete. Once again, errors pop up, and the hunt is on, and your “press ready” job is suddenly bogged down in pre-press while the offending layers are found and deleted.
This isn’t just a problem in traditional printing. If your job is running on a digital color copier, all of these things can cause weird ghostly shapes to show up in your solids. Mysterious blurbs of text suddenly appear in the corners of your photos. I can’t stress enough how annoying this is for your printer. We hate nothing so much as stopped production and the need to repeat work that should have already been done.
Did I mention PhotoShop? PhotoShop can be the worst in this regard; it’s a fantastic program that allows for the construction of beautiful images, but here's the thing: all those layers you used to fade images together and add text, and try out effects that you toggled on and off while you giggled with creative manic glee? We are your printers, and we don’t need those layers. Flatten the damn image before you send it to us, and for god’s sake, convert it to CMYK.
I’m not asking for a lot here. Just stop and breathe for a moment when you’ve finished creating that document. Step back. Grab a smoke. Have a beer. THEN ask yourself: is there anything left in this doc that doesn’t need to be there? Are there things there that are nothing more than a trail of digital bread crumbs leading back to an idea you decided to abandon? If there are, then please just take the extra minute to clean up your area, just like you did when you were 5 years old, and you’ll save me (and my ilk) a lot of hassle, and save yourself a few bucks in the long run.
PEACE. Be good to each other, and for god's sake, pick up after yourselves.