Preparing Digital Files

Be careful when crossing platforms

When it comes to cost it does not matter if you are PC or Mac based. Either platform works well. Problems and potential errors can arise when a digital file is created on a PC platform and then converted to Mac for printing, or created on a Mac and then moved to PC, or when moving back and forth between platforms. The most common issue is fonts. OpenType fonts cross platform well, but other types of fonts may not.

Castle Press supports both PC and Macintosh platforms. Please note which platform was used when submitting your job.

Use the latest version of a page layout software — some programs require additional prepress steps

Using the latest version of standard page layout software will cause the fewest problems for your printer. The reason for this is that the digital technician who prepares your files for printing has a higher level of expertise. The standard page layout program is InDesign.

Photoshop and Illustrator are not page layout programs. You can build pages using these programs, but you will increase your costs because of special handling required when they are not imported into a page layout program.

Use common page set-ups for consistency

If you are doing something for the first time, ask for some help as to how to properly prepare your files. Refer to the Castle Press web page on Digital File Peparation. Use available paper sizes that will economically fit the press.

If the project has a complex fold, request a folding dummy to show paper creep and panel size to build your file to the correct size.

Multiple-page documents can be built to ease prepress automation

For jobs that saddle stitch, build documents in either single or facing pages.

For jobs that perfect bind (or wire-o), use single pages if you have images that bleed. You may use single or facing pages if you have no bleeds.

These set-ups will allow for a page imposition program to automatically layout press forms during prepress.

Here are relative costs for various book sizes

When determining the page size of a booklet, here are some considerations. What is the content of the book—is it text or illustrations or a combination of both? Where will the booklet be used and under what conditions? Will the booklet be stored for future reference and how long would be a reasonable storage period?

In addition to the above considerations, what is the relative cost of the page size? For our example the standard size of 8.5" x 11" was used as the baseline with increased or decreased percentage of costs for the various sizes.


5,000 qty.

15,000 qty.

8.5" x 11"



5.5" x 8.5"



6" x 9"



7 x 10



9 x 12



For a perfect bound cover, request a paper dummy to determine spine thickness and build the front, spine, and back cover on one sheet

Images or colors that bleed off the edge of a page must be extended beyond the crop marks by 0.125" (1/8 inch).

Documents with more than 8 pages must have page numbers to assure the correct order of pages. If you require no page numbers, provide a clearly marked sample.

If your document drills, show the size and position of the holes in your master layout so type or images don’t get cut off

Finalizing Digital Files

Collect, check and send your final document with all images and fonts to Castle Press

Before sending your file to Castle Press, do a “collect for output” or “save for service provider” from your page program or a collecting program. Then double-check your document by using a scanning program like Markzware’s FlightCheck, and review the report of your file. If there are issues listed that you are not sure about, call our digital technicians and get clarification. Always include final laser prints or a PDF of what your final document should look like with your completed files.

Send collected files—even with print-optimized PDFs—to avoid delays with last minute alterations

PDF files reduce costs. Print-optimized PDF files can be used for the proofing and printing plate process. Digital files prepared using non-graphic arts software programs such as Microsoft Word should be saved as PDFs. This will save your settings and preferences when your file is prepared to print.

Send only pertinent files with your job

Too much information is not a good thing when sending files. Eliminate potential errors by just sending the material required for your project. Do not send your suitcase of fonts. Do not send working images. Do not send any extra document files. It takes additional time to download these extraneous files. There is the potential problem of picking the wrong file to prepare for printing.

Submit a copy of your files on a CD or upload them to our web site

14 things to check before sign-off

When the final proof arrives at your office, everyone becomes a little excited. You finally get to see everything all at once and in a form that resembles the final printed piece. Some people often comment that it is like giving birth, and it is natural to say what a beautiful job it is. This is why mistakes are missed on final proofs.

The correct mental attitude is to expect to find a missing comma, a misspelled word, or a picture that is flopped. Remember that the proof is a legal document; once you have approved it you are accepting the content of the printed piece as represented in the proof. It is expensive to make changes at this point, but far less expensive than reprinting your project.

  1. Proof tag: Check the proof tag to make sure quantities, PMS colors, substrate (i.e. paper type and brand) and other specifications are listed accurately. It is a good procedure for the sales representative to read this information aloud to the buyer for verification. Allowing the buyer to read the information to themselves seems to let mistakes slip through.

  2. Pages: Is the page size (flat and folded) correct? Is the number of pages correct? Are pages in the correct order? Are the page numbers correct? Are all pages identified (including blank pages for books)?

  3. Type: Check to make sure copy hasn’t moved, re-wrapped or dropped off. Are fonts correct? Are there any typographical errors?

  4. Images: Are all photos, illustrations, scans, etc. at the proper size and placed in the correct position? Are logos positioned accurately? Is the logo size correct?

  5. Color: Are ink colors correct? Are color breaks correct? Is the color satisfactory? If the print project is part of a package or a series, do the colors match the other pieces? If PMS colors are used, a color swatch should be attached to the proof tag. The pressman uses the swatch as a color reference for ink density.

  6. Margins: Are margins consistent? Do margins allow for special binding or folding?

  7. Screens: Is the placement of screens and screen percentages accurate?

  8. Crossovers: Do the crossovers line up correctly?

  9. Reverse type: Is reverse type large enough to avoid plugging on press?

  10. Folding: Is the proof folded correctly? Are there tick marks to show first, second, third folds?

  11. Binding: Saddle-stitching: Are staples in the correct position? Perfect binding: Check spine width against artwork and paper dummy. Binding holes: Are bindery holes drilled to the correct size? Are they in the correct position?

  12. Corrections: If corrections were requested, have they been made?

  13. Postal regulations: Does the project conform to postal regulations? Is there a sign-off by the post office representative? Do you have the correct mailing indicia?

  14. Quality issues: Is the quality of the overall piece acceptable?

See also:

Digital Files

Printing Resources

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