Monthly Archives: November 2010

How is this going to be printed?

Once upon a time the only option for printing was offset printing. (Printing on a printing press by a professional printer.) Today we have options, traditional offset and digital. Digital printing is like your home or office printer on steroids. In the hands of a professional digital printing can be a wonderful thing. It doesn’t replace traditional printing and the look is different. Offset printing can do things digital cannot and digital can do things offset cannot. We will get to that later. So how is something going to get printed and why do you care? Cost, look, time. Digital printing can cost less that offset–for small runs, Offset is better for larger pieces and higher runs. Digital printing can’t print certain things as well as offset, for instance, large areas of solid color will not print as well digitally. Large size pieces are not economical printed digitally, but 500-1000 postcards? Digital is likely your best bet. This how you know, first determine what you are printing, a postcard, a folded invitation with gold foil, or 18×24 poster then ask your printer. Digital printing will not print specified colors exactly but they can come pretty close. If color is absolutely crucial, think Ford Blue, offset may be your preferred method. Knowing how a piece is going to get printed is incredibly helpful to a designer in making sure the design suits your needs and will look great, all within your budget.

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What happened to my fonts?

So you spend an ungodly amount of time formatting your wonderful document. It’s beautiful, so sleek, so readable, so elegant. You send it to your audience and await the admiring comments. And you wait. And wait. Philistines! They know nothing about beauty. A week or so later you notice a colleague has printed your document. At last, you think, someone with a modicum of refinement. But what’s this? Courier? Courier! What happened? Here’s what happened; you used a typeface (font) that no one else has on their computers. Your document is actually a series of 0s (zeroes) and 1s (ones). It contains code that tells each computer that when your document is opened how to make it look on screen. Bold this, not that, underline here, capitalize this letter, etc. It also tells that selected computer which typeface to use. However, it cannot use a typeface that it does not have, so it substitutes; and it usually substitutes Courier. To put it another way, say you’re making cookies. The recipe calls for a cup of brown sugar, you only have white sugar, so you use white sugar. The cookies come out well enough but not as good as they would have had you used brown sugar as the recipe called for. Yeah, whatever. But how do you fix this because Courier will simply not do? You save and send that beautiful document as a PDF. –But that isn’t the end of the story just this installment. Look for my entry, Why you love to send PDFs.