Generating professional output

Beyond printing your own copies on a desktop printer, or having copies photo-reproduced at a quick print store, you may wish to consider professional printing. For example, if you need to reproduce more than about 500 copies of a piece, photocopying begins to lose its economic advantages.

If you’re not using color matching, we suggest you set up ICC device profiles for image colors and enable color management so that images in the exported file include correct color space information. You can also specify a device profile for your desktop printer for accurate on-screen proofing of desktop-printed colors. For details, see Managing screen and output colors.

Unless you’re handing off camera-ready artwork, your print provider will specify the format in which you should submit the publication: either PDF (PDF/X format) or PostScript. Once you’ve decided whether to output as PDF or PostScript, you’ll need to set prepress options before choosing the appropriate output command.


PDF is a format developed by Adobe to handle documents in a device- and platform-independent manner. PDF excels as an electronic distribution medium and the reliable PDF/X formats are perfect for delivering a publication file to a professional printer. Your print partner can tell you whether to deliver PDF/X-1 or PDF/X-1a (PagePlus supports both)—but from the PagePlus end of things you won’t see a difference. In either mode, all your publication’s colors will be output in the CMYK color space, and fonts you’ve used will be embedded. A single PDF/X file will contain all the necessary information (fonts, images, graphics, and text) your print partner requires.

To output your publication as a PDF/X file:

  1. Click PagePlus tbr std publishpdf Generating professional output Publish PDF on the Standard toolbar.
    – or -

    Select Publish as PDF… from the File menu.

  2. Review General and Advanced tab settings (see Exporting PDF files).

When preparing a PDF/X file for professional printing, choose either “PDF X/1″ or “PDF X/1a” in the General tab’s Compatibility list, as advised by your print partner. Also inquire whether or not to Impose pages; this option is fine for desktop printing of a folded publication or one that uses facing pages, but a professional printer may prefer you to leave the imposition (page sequencing) to them.

  1. Review Prepress tab settings.

You don’t need to worry about the Compression or Security tabs; these only apply to screen-ready PDFs.

Setting prepress options

Both the Publish PDF and Print dialogs provide optional settings for professional printing. Many of the options are common to both dialogs. Some—like crop marks and file information—are conventional, while others are reserved for special situations. Below, we’ve included combined information for both PDF and PostScript (print) output; each method supports some choices but not others. Be sure to get your print partner’s recommendations.

Printing page marks and/or file information

  • Select any required options from the “Page Marks” section, i.e.

  • File Information will include information such time, date, and publication name below the actual artwork (PagePlus page).

  • Crop marks are small markers on the printed page, marking the page dimensions of the artwork. Also check Edge only crop marks if you want to suppress interior crop marks.

  • Registration targets serve to help the printer align subsequent press runs with the first one. Various styles are available in the “Registration style” list.

  • A densitometer bar is a reference strip consisting of 11 squares, with tint values ranging from 0% to 100% in 10% intervals, used to gauge output accuracy with a densitometer. When targeting CMYK separations, the strip appears as shades of gray on each separation sheet; these will appear in the respective process or spot colors when separations are printed.

  • A color calibration bar is a reference strip consisting of 8 squares, with 100% values for cyan, blue, magenta, red, yellow, green, process black (C+Y+M) and pure black.

The printer page size must be at least 1″ x 1″ larger than the actual artwork being printed, to ensure that the marks will be entirely visible on the final print. You can use the Bleed limit setting, or (for PostScript printing), select an “extra” printer page sizes which can be used with standard artwork paper sizes.

Suppressing pictures

  • When printing, check Suppress pictures to print hairline place holder boxes in place of the pictures in the publication.

This has two uses: (1) to speed up printing of quick proofs, and (2) to leave markers for pictures to be added manually at a later stage of the production process.

Including OPI comments

The Open Prepress Interface (OPI) is a set of PostScript language comment conventions that allow PagePlus to pass layout information about imported bitmap images to an OPI-compatible system. OPI comments describe the placement, size, rotation and cropping of imported bitmap pictures so that the OPI server can insert high-quality pictures before printing the page(s).

  • Check Include OPI comments to include these comments in PostScript output.

Transparency-related print options

Normally, PagePlus outputs to the printer driver a mix of vector and raster (bitmap) data. The Rasterize resolution sets a limit on the amount of data needed for those parts of each page that are “rasterized”—that is, output as box-shaped bitmaps. This helps to speed up printing and reduce PostScript file sizes. If you enter a value of “0,” the printer’s current DPI setting is used; but beware—this may maximize quality but will also greatly slow things down. 300dpi is the most common setting for professional printing.

Problems arise with some printer drivers when bitmaps in a publication use transparency. If you are getting poor results, you can select the Rasterize entire page option to output whole pages as bitmaps. While slower, this approach virtually gu
arantees successful printing.

If your design incorporates any objects that use transparency, keep in mind that this poses a special challenge for printers. Transparent objects are rasterized when output, and this may create problems for adjacent objects. Since the bitmap region is rectangular, nearby text may degrade. Also, some printer drivers handle color differently for raster and vector objects, which could result in recoloring part of a vector object that happens to lie partly in the rasterized region. If you observe these kinds of problems in your output, you have two options to try (for comparable problems with PDF export, use the Advanced tab):

  • Stripped transparency, the default option, prints transparent areas by sending out bitmaps line by line, using lines one pixel high, and feeding only solid image data to the printer, ignoring any blank regions—rather like a scanning process. Especially recommended for inkjet printers, this is again a slow method but works in most cases.

  • The Clipped transparency option is another (or additional) way of working around printer driver limitations. If the box is checked, the printer is instructed to ignore the transparent region surrounding a QuickShape that’s normally there when PagePlus sends it out as a box-shaped bitmap. Unfortunately, not all drivers deal well with the clipping command, resulting in data overload or problems with rotated pictures, so the option is not selected by default. It’s available as a possible remedy for transparency-related driver issues.

  • Here are some guidelines for troubleshooting transparency problems: 1) Switch off any color correction settings in your printer properties, sometimes described as photo color correction or similar. 2) Experiment with a setting that offers the least color difference between bitmap and vector regions. 3) Obtain the latest printer driver from the manufacturer. 4) Try and use a PostScript® driver if one is available for your print device. 5) Use Clipped and/or Stripped transparency if your printer handles them well.

  • Occasionally, bitmaps have solid color borders that you may have hidden by setting them transparent. To avoid problems printing such images, try dragging a vector-based mask over the bitmap to cover its edges. The approach works because there’s no need to output transparent bitmap data to the printer.

Setting a bleed limit

If your design incorporates bleeds—elements that run to the page edges—check Bleed and to extend the printable area by the specified Bleed limit beyond the page edges where printing would otherwise stop. You can then print to an oversized sheet which is later trimmed to the correct publication dimensions.

  • Check Bleed and specify a Bleed limit value to extend the printable area.

When laying out “bleed” elements that you want to run to the edge of a trimmed page, be sure to extend them beyond this “trim edge”—the dimensions defined by your Page Setup—to allow for inaccuracies in the trimming process. For convenience when laying out bleed elements, you can set up visible bleed area guide lines outside the trim/page edge. Note that these guide lines are just a visual aid; only the Bleed limit setting extends the actual output page size.

When you’re not using bleeds, leave a blank margin of at least 4 mm inside the trimmed edge for a professional look.

To allow for bleeds when outputting a PostScript file, you’ll also need to ensure that the printer driver page size set via File/Print… (Properties) is large enough to accommodate the printed page plus the bleed.

Generating professional output