Digital PrePress

Getting your file imaged onto the printing plate at the lowest cost

Desktop Publishing

  • Desktop publishing is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and graphics to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc.

Which Platform?

  • MAC or PC either platform is acceptable

  • Most all of the industry standard software is available for both the Macintosh and PC

Software Applications

  • Industry standard page layout

    • Adobe InDesign

  • Illustration

    • Adobe Illustrator

  • Image editing

    • Adobe Photoshop

Page Layout

  • Page layout is the process of placing and arranging text and graphics on the page to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc.

  • Page layout refers to the actual document page and its composition. The primary software programs for desktop publishing are called page layout applications.

Digital parts of a Page

page layout

Illustration (Vector) Graphics

  • Vector graphics are mathematically based. All lines, shapes, etc. (also called objects) of a vector-based image are independent of one another.

Vector Examples

vector graphics examples

  • Figure A shows an image of a rose.

  • Figure B shows one leaf of the same rose magnified, along with the paths and handles used within vector images.

Vector Attributes

Additional attributes of vector-based images include:

  • Vector-based images are usually created and edited in “drawing” or “illustration” programs such as Adobe Illustrator.

  • Vector-based images have smooth edges and are created with curves or shapes.

  • Vector-based images are good for precise illustrations, but are not as good for photorealistic images.

  • Vector-based images are easily scalable, due to their use of mathematic formulas.

Vector Based Applications

  • Industry Standard:

    • Adobe Illustrator

  • Other Vector Based Software:

    • CorelDraw

bitmap graphics example

Bitmap (Raster) Graphics

  • Bitmap images, also referred to as raster images, are pixel-based. This means that location and color information about the image is stored in individual pixels within a grid.

How a Bitmap Works

  • Figure A shows a small blue arrow image at its actual size.

  • Figure B shows the same image magnified. The upper left quadrant shows the individual pixels of the image. Each pixel has an assigned color; some pixels are white, while other pixels are blue. The information stored in a bitmap image regarding pixel location and color is what forms the image. Bitmap images are edited at the pixel level; in other words, the color of any one pixel can be changed.

Bitmap Attributes

  • Additional attributes of bitmap images include:

  • Bitmap images are usually created and edited in "photo" or "paint" programs such as Adobe Photoshop.

  • Bitmap images are mapped to a grid.

  • The size of the image is based on the image's resolution.

  • Bitmap images are not easily scalable.

  • Bitmap images are used for photorealistic images and, therefore, may involve complex color variations.

Tips to save money

  • Careful proofread by a second person before sending file to your printer.

  • Include screen and printer fonts. If providing a Press Optimized PDF embed fonts.

Non-Automated Prepress Process

  • Client submits digital file on a CD or the preferred upload through our Website.

  • During the prepress process your files are first of all copied to our servers.

  • Your file gets a preflight review.

  • A Press Optimized PDF is created.

  • We’ve learned that by streamlining the prepress process we are able to pass significant savings onto our customers.

Refining is part of the Automated Workflow

  • Press Optimized PDF is refined.

  • Refining is the process of turning your graphic design into information that the RIP (Raster Image Processor) can understand and image on a printing plate.

Trapping is part of the Automated Workflow

  • Trapping involves creating a region of overlap between two adjacent colors, so that even if the colors are out of register, no gap is visible. In the illustration below you can see how trapping helps this problem.

color trapping

Imposition is part of the Automated Workflow

  • Imposing is the positioning of pages on a press sheet in such a manner that when the sheet is folded into a signature and cut, the pages will be in the proper sequence.

press imposition

Technician Previews Soft Proof of Imposed Press Form

  • After the imposition is processed, a preview is created to make sure that everything is in proper position for the printing plates.

press imposition

Final steps to client approval and the making of printing plates

  • HP plotter proof to show position of copy, pictures and position of pages.

  • Integris contract proof to show CMYK colors.

  • Client approves both these proofs.

  • Plates are made.

  • If a change is required the process goes back to making the change in the digital file.

Digital File Checklist

  • Prepress checklist lets us bypass common pitfalls associated with preparing digital files for print.

  • Run spell check as part of the page layout procedure.

  • Have higher authority review low resolution PDF.

  • Have a second set of eyes proofread your document.


low image resolution

  • All raster images (color or grayscale) should be 300 dpi (Dots Per Inch) and placed at 100% in the page layout. The image at right is 72 dpi.

  • Notice the very jagged edges.

high image resolution

  • This image to the right is 300 dpi.

  • Notice the very smooth edges.


line art

  • All lineart should be scanned at 1200 dpi
    and placed at 100% in the page layout.


rgb vs. cmyk color

  • RGB-(Red, Green, Blue). These are the colors your monitor uses to display everything.

  • CMYK-(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). These are the colors used for printing.

Convert RGB Files to CMYK

convert rgb to cmyk

  • RGB-(Red, Green, Blue) These are the colors your monitor uses to display everything.

  • CMYK-(Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) These are the colors used for printing.

  • Color shifts are usually not visible in color photographs; however, rich and solid colors (like a background) can be affected by a color conversion.

Rich Black

rich black color

  • Large, solid black areas should use Rich Black to prevent the color looking gray. Rich Black consists of

    • 30% Cyan

    • 20% Magenta

    • 20% Yellow

    • 100% Black

  • For regular body text, do not use Rich Black.

  • For headlines larger than 48 points consider using Rich Black.

Digital File Layout Trim & Bleed

digital file layout and trim

  • Digital file layout

  • Brochures in spreads to accommodate paper creep.

  • Saddle-stitched booklets facing pages

  • Perfect bound booklets single pages

  • The document page size should be built to final trim size plus 1/8-inch bleed.

  • Score, fold and trim marks indicated and outside live print area.


  • All fonts should be included when sending your project to the printer.

  • Screen and printer fonts when using postscript

  • Truetype and Opentype can also be used

  • Do not use menu styles when using postscript fonts

  • Do not use Multiple Master fonts

font instructions


  • Images should be linked to your document, not embedded. Embedding makes your file size very large.

  • All images should be included when sending your project to the printer.

  • The name of your image must be exactly the same as name of image place holder in your file.

Dielines & Varnishes

  • If your project requires a spot varnish or diecutting, those items should be included in your document.


Sending your file to the printer

  • When you have checked everything off the checklist, collect all your files. This includes your page layout file, all fonts and images.

  • InDesign has the “Package” command to do this for you.

  • If you are not using these applications, you might consider a preflight application that also has a collect feature.


  • To create the most savings, convert your project to a final press ready PDF.

  • To create a PDF, you will need an application called Adobe Acrobat.

Getting Your Files to the Printer

  • It is not always necessary to copy all your items to a disk or burn to a CD.

  • Depending on the size of files, there is email, FTP and a variety of other ways to get your project to the printer almost instantaneously.

  • Before preparing your files it is a good idea to speak with your printer as to their specific specifications.


  • Online soft proof

  • Digital folding proof

  • Digital contract proof

  • Press check

See also:

Tips on Preparing Digital Files

Creating a Digital File with InDesign

6 Pointers on Producing Effective Digital Printing

Click Here to Print from your Uploaded PDF

Click Here to Print from your Design Created Online