Binary Graphics, Inc.

Help your customers pre-plan desktop jobs

by John Knapp, Binary Graphics, Inc. Seattle
© 1997 Binary Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

As a consultant and trainer in desktop and electronic prepress, I've never met a designer that intended to create output problems with their disks. When it happens, it's always "a mistake." We need to help our customers avoid mistakes by getting good information in their hands before they create their files. We should help them by detailing:

  • Production responsibilities that apply to all jobs your customers create
  • Specifications for jobs which you will print
  • A job-specific determination of who will do what production steps

For example, production responsibilities would include simple things like having the customer always assign the correct printing colors for the elements in their layouts. Getting the page size right, adding bleeds and using correct file formats and scan resolution. It would also include computer technique issues like not creating inefficient or overly complex files.

Job specifications would include information about optimal page size and brochure panel widths. Printing specifications like dot gain, halftone ruling, highlight and shadow percentages for photos, trapping specs and the like.

Job-specific division of responsibility would help the designer know how far to take things with their files and what they should hire you to do for them. Among other steps, work with your customers and decide which of you will do each of the following:

  • Create varnish windows
  • Scan the pictures
  • Place high-resolution scans into layout pages
  • Perform image editing like create silhouettes and drop shadows
  • Create necessary traps
  • Impose the files
  • Create the film

Of course, if you don't hear about a job until the files are done and the disk is on the way it's a little late. Ask yourself if it needs to be that way. Is there anything you can do to get the information in their hands early enough? If you can, you will stand out from your competition and be more profitable.



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