The Imagemakers

Capital Spectrum, Inc.


Mail: PO Box 17936, Austin, TX 78760-7936


Physical: 502 S Loop 4, Buda, TX 78610


(800) 777-8070 • (512) 443-0088 • (512) 443-2196 fax


Prepress and Printing

What file formats do you recommend for printing?

Preferred file formats for Mac and PC include: Adobe InDesign CC; Illustrator CC; Photoshop CC; and earlier versions of each. Much older versions will be updated to newer versions to ensure proper printing. Capital Spectrum/CSI can support a wide variety of applications outside of those listed above. Please contact us for more information.

Why aren’t my fonts working?
The fonts supplied on your computer (TrueType) are not suitable for printing - they are essentially smoothed bitmapped fonts, supplied in fixed sizes. Professional type fonts (Type 1) are completely scalable, because they are actually computed from algorithms that determine their size and weight (requires installation of Adobe Type Manager). The difference is obvious to a designer, but many users don't understand that a bold version of a font is actually a complete typeface in a Type 1 font, and not just a heavier version, drawn on the fly by your computer, of the same face. In fact, some typefaces have many weights available.

Type 1 fonts are sold by numerous type houses (ex. Adobe's Type Library, Bitstream), and have both screen and printer fonts as files that you must supply with your document. The reason you must supply your own fonts is to allow the type foundries control of the copyright - Adobe offers thousands of fonts, and each is painstakingly drawn and refined before being offered for sale. OTF, or Open Type Fonts, are a cross-platform format so they can be used on both Macs and PCs interchangeably.

Professional type fonts, such as Type 1 and Open Type Fonts, are the optimum fonts to use in any printed piece. These fonts are completely scalable and maintain their weight and dimensions in printing applications.

All fonts used within a document and its support files must be supplied, both screen and printer fonts for Postscript fonts, or the entire set when using Open Type Fonts.

Truetype fonts, which are typically supplied with the operating system and numerous applications, are not reliable and should be complete avoided when creating files. Also, Multiple Master fonts are similarly unreliable and should not be used unless converted to outlines before submitting files.

All fonts used for support files (Illustrator eps or Photoshop files) should be included or converted to outlines prior to sending final files.

Another cause for font issues is menu styling within the application. Selecting Bold or Italic in the shortcut menu does not guarantee the actual font is available. The genuine version of each font weight must be used in order to achieve the desired effect. Likewise, selecting Underline will not always produce an underline that prints the same as it appears onscreen.

IMPORTANT: When collecting or packaging documents for transfer, do not use the software's built-in function to collect fonts - collect fonts manually and include the entire font set to avoid problems.

What do the terms kerning and leading mean?
Back when type was set by hand, there was a need for a new vocabulary. In fact, we heard that the reason for calling letters "upper case" and "lower case" is that the capital letters were in the top drawer, and the little letters were in the lower drawer of the type case. Kerning, which actually refers to the little serifs that extend beyond the letter's block shape, is subtracting space between characters to tighten them up, perhaps in order to draw up a single word, left as a "widow" on the last line onto a full line. Tracking type is intentionally adding space, which a designer might do with the letters in a subhead. "Leading" refers back to bars of lead that spaced out lines of type - now it just means the spacing between the baselines (the imaginary line the type sits on).

What do I need to provide to help my job proceed smoothly?
Along with all fonts used in the project, you should provide all support graphics: this includes any referenced eps files or images.

Layout programs such as Adobe InDesign have collect or package features which copy all directly referenced elements into a collected folder. We do not recommend allowing the software to collect the fonts, however, because this will result in an incomplete set and could cause problems in prepress production. Keep in mind that packaging functions will only provide artwork used in the final piece, not any of the graphics used to create those elements, so if there is a possibility those support files will be needed (eps files saved prior to converting type to outlines or layered Photoshop files used to create flattened images, for instance) please include those as well.

Please remember to Spell Check all documents prior to submission – you can save time, expense and a lot of aggravation with this valuable tool!

In addition to the files themselves, please provide laser proofs, sized at 100 percent when possible, or a low resolution PDF so we can see how you expect your files to appear in final printed form.

File compression, as in LZW compression settings in Photoshop tiffs, should be avoided. In large data files, compression can remove valuable information and create errors in production. Likewise, older versions of graphics should be resaved in current versions to avoid difficulty in processing.

Images should be high resolution – dots per inch (dpi) should be at least twice the line screen intended for the job. For example, when printing at 150 line screen, an image should be at least 300 dpi. Low resolution images, particularly those used for web graphics that are generally saved at 72 dpi, will not produce acceptable results in printing.

What should I do about trapping my job?
Let us do the work! Trapping is a technical adjustment to the mechanical art, and for the best product, it should be done taking into account our presses. Some software has an automatic trapping function, but generic traps may not be right for the specifics of your job. We would prefer to set the traps ourselves, after looking at each case where trapping is needed. Why do we need to adjust that job you just approved? Good question. On press, the ink spreads just a little (called "gain"). And each sheet can stretch or shift just a hair as it goes through the press. So in order to have the plates set up to take into account the registration tolerance of printing, we add and subtract very tiny areas where colors butt, encircle or entrap one another.

How should I provide my files?
Files may be transferred via our Secure FTP site or through email links. Please request further information for these types of transfers.

All files sent via internet should be compressed using StuffIt or Zip compression formats. Otherwise documents may be corrupted in transmission, particularly fonts and eps files.

Emailed files are limited to 10MB. Anything larger should be provided on disk or via FTP.

We also accept media on virtually any media storage type.

Getting Accurate Color (return to top)

How can I be sure that what I see is what I get?
We wish it were that simple! Typically, you are working on a computer with a monitor that produces colors from red, blue and green phosphors. These colors are actually light that is being projected, or "soft color," not colors that are reflected from light hitting paper, what we call "hard color."

There is a lot of science behind color reproduction, but the common denominator for most of us is "four color process." This is the method of simulating the millions of colors in the visible spectrum using only four colors in various combinations: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This is referred to as CMYK. To simplify just a little, the 16,000,000 colors that you can see with 24-bit monitors are simulated in the 5,000 colors that can be produced using CMYK.

Thus, for critical color matching, such as a corporate logo, you may want to add a special spot color. Spot colors (sometimes called PMS colors in the graphics industry, for the Pantone Matching System), can be matched specifically, and include the strong reds, deep blues, and fluorescents and metallics that cannot be rendered with CMYK.

Also, you may want to watch out for spot Pantone colors which are incorporated in your layout, but which are not anticipated in the print job. Designers can easily pick a great Pantone color which doesn't have a close equivalent in CMYK. Make sure that you are choosing colors from a CMYK palette when you design a piece, and you'll always be pleased with the piece on press.

Why do you make such a big deal about proofs?
Proofs are intended to show you an approximation of what your job will look like on press. You may have a color inkjet printer in your office, and you would immediately recognize that the colors are much too vivid, too contrasty and that photographs have poor resolution, compared to a printed piece. Our objective is to have a full range of proofing technologies –including digital color proofs, Starproof inkjet proofs and Kodak XP-4 proofs, which can show you the halftones in place - all in order to simulate the end product. After all, printing is actually a complex manufacturing process, using many skills and technologies, and it's not easy to anticipate the end result!

There are three places where you can alter or adjust the color: as you adjust the graphics on your computer, when we do the prepress work, and when the job is actually on press. Use the experience of your rep to help you understand how to adjust the color. For example, when you are incorporating photography, the "loose color" proofs are the first look at the separations. These may be just right, too warm, too cool, too green, too yellow – tell us what you see (and make sure you're using accurately-balanced lighting, such as in our proofing booths), and we can adjust the color balance appropriately, as needed, on each image.

Contract proofs are final proofs – as in final approval and transfer of responsibility, i.e. "contract" – typo correction and design decisions should have been made long before we got your file. However, getting a little warmer or cooler tone to the job OVERALL can be done on press. Remember that corrections to individual images cannot be done on press, so pay close attention to each proofing step as the job progresses.

Our contract proofs are intended to show you color as close as possible to the way it will look on press. In fact, for really critical color decisions, such as when you're printing process color on a colored stock, like a cream or speckled paper, we can even proof the job on the actual stock. We can also proof with very accurate rendering of Pantone (PMS) spot colors - even metallics! Just ask your rep about the best proofing technology for the requirements of your specific job.

You mentioned special lighting for working with proofs…why is that?
Many people have had the experience of buying clothes inside a store, and then discovering that the color shifted outside in daylight. In the graphics industry, we prioritize our color proofing against the color temperature of daylight (5000 degrees Kelvin), since it is the prevalent natural light that we all use. It is also the color temperature of the lighting that professional photographers use in the studio.

As you know, incandescent lighting is more yellow, or warmer, and fluorescent lamps are a little green or blue, unless they are specially balanced toward natural light. With so many different lighting sources (mercury vapor, sodium, etc.) in the business landscape, there needed to be a standard, and natural light is it. This is especially important to consider when looking at proofs or printed pieces, since they both depend on reflected light to generate what we think of as "color." The color of the light source, or the glare of the reflection off the surface of the paper, both have a strong influence on whether or not we think the color is accurate.



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