Where'd the i's and hyhens go?
October 29, 2008 6:04 PM   Subscribe

PrepressFilter: Issues with film output of our PDFs We're having a problem with specific letters dropping out, specifically the "i" and and hyphens "-"

What happens is that that we compose tab size newspaper pages in CreativeSuite 2, with all the latest updates, on Windows XP. Once the Indesign pages are ok'd, we make PDFs of them and then place them in an Imposition document (Indesign CS2, 4.05) for the printer. We then zip the files and upload the imposition docs and pdfs to printer, who unzips them and runs the imposed pages through their rip. Essentially, they just push print and run the film for stripping. Once these pages have gone through the rip, the letter i and hyphens sometimes drop out. These characters are in the original Indesign documents and verified to be in the final PDFs, we print them to make sure. Yet, when the printer outputs the documents, these character randomly drop out, but only on specific pages For instance, pages might be in the imposition document like this: 1 40 2 39 where page 1 and 40 are rotated 180 degrees (i.e. upside down), while 2 and 39 are right side up. The dropped characters will only appear on page 1 or 40 (sometimes both). Those same pages, when rotated, output fine. So it's only occurring on pages that are rotated in the imposition document. The font is DIN, made by Fontshop and they're reporting no problems with it and we made sure we have the latest version of it. Any thoughts on what's causing this and how to avoid it? Anonymous to protect the delicate company name.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This sounds like an issue with the printer itself. The rasterizer or some part of the printer driver is dropping the ball if the characters are present everywhere else in the chain. I'd be calling the printer manufacturer. And don't be so casual with your terms when you have hardware printers and service bureaus. It's not at all clear what you mean here:

"These characters are in the original Indesign documents and verified to be in the final PDFs, we print them to make sure. Yet, when the printer outputs the documents, these character randomly drop out"

So, if "the printer" refers to an outside agency you're going to have to tell them it's their problem and to please be fixing it, or find someone else.
posted by rhizome at 6:20 PM on October 29, 2008


Seconding rhizome. I was going to suggest checking that the font is embedding in the pdf, as that can cause similar issues, but the fact that it's only happening on rotations in the imposition definitely points to a rip issue...

I hate to say this, as I've had to deal with similar issues far too many times, but the buck really does stop with the printer. One possible solution for them would be to rasterize the offending pages at a resolution that's sufficiently high so as not to be noticeably bitmapped (at least 450 dpi, maybe 600? They may say they can get away with 300, but I'm not always convinced about that) and then import those pages as images. Or you could do that at your end, if you want to own the process.

Talk to them - see what they say...
posted by Chairboy at 6:46 PM on October 29, 2008


As a printer myself, I hate accepting PDFs from clients for a good many reasons, and this is one of them.

Some thoughts off the top of my head...
• I've seen similar things happen with older RIP systems (late 90's, early 00's)
• The font itself may be corrupted. If yo have access to to font scanning software I'd suggest giving the font an examination.
• Are you sure the compete font is embedded and not just a subset?
• Are you using SMALLCAPS, superscript, or subscript styling? Some fonts don't support styling and get all weird in the final RIP stage when asked to do things they're not created to do.
• Nested PDFs can sometimes cause problems. Rare, but it happens.
• Longshot: are you using the PageMaker plugin, or in any way allowing your InDesign files to come in contact with PageMaker-generated content? PM was the biggest offender for this sort of behavior, especially with rotated pages.

Frankly I'm surprised that the printer won't impose the files for you. Now that I think of it, I'm surprised that the printer doesn't accept native files. Ask them if they won't handle the heavy lifting for you, in order to troubleshoot the problem. If they say no, find another printer.
posted by lekvar at 7:54 PM on October 29, 2008


Some RIPs have a hard drive just for fonts. A corrupt font anywhere in the chain can cause this.
posted by tomierna at 9:23 PM on October 29, 2008


Try saving the PDF to an earlier version. Maybe Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3) I've run into issues with certain printers if I've given them a PDF saved in a newer version.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:48 AM on October 30, 2008


Hello, I'm the person who posted the original query.


We can't switch printers for various reasons. It's an odd corporate politics issue.

Sending them the raw files isn't practical due to the large number of ad and fonts.

We've talked to the printer and they have no real idea. They suggested changing the font.

These files have not been through PageMaker at all.

What is font scanning software?

How do we ensure the font is embedded as opposed to subsetted? We currently output PDFs directly from Indesign as version 1.4, with the "Subset fonts when percent of characters used is less than..." set to 100%.

As for aving as 1.3, won't that 'cause issues with stitching from flattening files?
posted by pica v inch at 5:45 AM on October 30, 2008


We can't switch printers for various reasons. It's an odd corporate politics issue.

Sending them the raw files isn't practical due to the large number of ad and fonts.

We've talked to the printer and they have no real idea. They suggested changing the font.


I'm sorry to hear that. I'm going to be nice to my fellow printers and say nothing further on the subject. But I reserve the right to grind my teeth in frustration.

What is font scanning software?

I use FontDoctor X, available from Extensis. It will scan your font files and determine if all of the necessary components (printer font, screen font) are present, look for corrupted files, clean up font collections, and warn you if the fonts in question are unusable. This isn't a specific endorsement of FontDoctor per se, it's simply what I use. But it is handy to have a font utility of some sort on hand because fonts do become corrupted.

How do we ensure the font is embedded as opposed to subsetted? We currently output PDFs directly from Indesign as version 1.4, with the "Subset fonts when percent of characters used is less than..." set to 100%.

You've got things covered on your end. At this point, since I can't dig into your files myself, I'm going to hazard a guess that either the font's gone funny or the printer's RIP is causing the difficulty. You say that sending raw files is impractical; do they not offer imposition services?

Oh, btw, inches > pica.
;)
posted by lekvar at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2008


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