modest publisher project iso design/printing expert to bring me out of my screen
December 3, 2012 5:20 PM   Subscribe

I need very specific help with layout for a printing project - help me understand what our printer person is asking for!

I have a double-sided, 4x7" printing project made with Publisher 2007. I am not a designer and I don't understand printing press set-up lingo, and I need to get this printed for work.

The printing shop folks sent me an email I'm trying to decipher. Here is what they sent:

"We will print these 4 –up on a 12x18 sheet as a 'work and turn' imposition (portrait). We would like to have 1/4 inch bleed. The images should be centered with 1/2" between them in the 12x18 file. For file type, a hi-resolution PDF with fonts embedded will work but just in case the native file is also a good thing to include."

Here's what I think I understand so far:

- I need to use a 12x18" piece of paper in Publisher
- I need to have an extra 1/4" of design stuff, like colors, in the 4x7 so it goes all the way to the edge of the paper when cut
- There needs to be 1/2" between the two images
- I need space (but where?) for a grabber so the printing press can turn the paper

So! I need help figuring this out - diagrams and drawings welcome. Explain it to me like, what is the saying, like I'm a 6-year-old? That's pretty much where I'm at. I looked up a lot of terms so I get how the "work and turn" works, and I messed around a bunch with the layout, but I'm getting lost trying to figure out exactly how my 12x18" paper is supposed to look.

Thank you, in advance, a LOT.
posted by rocketing to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
A good printer would not ask you to do the imposition yourself. That is what you pay them for. I've never in many years of printing had anyone ask me to do that. The only thing you should worry about is the bleeds. The only thing I can think of is that they don't use Publisher, and don't want the liability...
posted by grimley at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2012

hmm. My first thought is that printers (that I'm familiar with) are perfectly happy with a 1-up pdf (including bleeds) and they take it from there. Because no printer (ditto) trusts anyone else's crop marks.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:38 PM on December 3, 2012

Call them and say: hi, I can send you a PDF and also the Publisher file if you can use it, but I need you to do the setup for your machine. I don't feel comfortable doing that and I know other printers that will handle it. You can make sure the document size and bleed are ok but that's all they should need.

Possibly they were just telling you how they were going to print it, not what you should do other than giving them a PDF or publisher file. Possibly they are not very skilled and you need to shop around.
posted by emjaybee at 6:45 PM on December 3, 2012

Yikes, ditto everyone else that a printer should be walking you through this. They probably assume that you're a designer but trust me, printers are there to be asked questions and any halfway decent one will have people on staff to help you setup a file. It's weird they're asking you to set up the file 4-up. Like, my immediate reaction was "WTF kind of 'printer' are these a-holes?" Having you set up with bleeds is 100% normal but the work and turn? That's their job—because all printers use different equipment and they're being paid to figure out how to fit four projects on a page and cut them out.

That being said, can you get a different printer? This isn't a flip answer, if you're not a designer and they're not being helpful they can and will charge around $75/hr (that's on the reasonable end) to adjust your files if they're not set up correctly.

If you're stuck with them, Publisher is common enough that I wonder if you can ask the printer for a template you can work from? I've been a designer for 5+ years and I ask for templates all the time! My printer now will create templates for me for truly complicated jobs to save everyone hassle, since sometimes they'll be printing something unlike anything they've ever done before. Or you can try googling it; I'm on an iPad so I didn't explore this option much but it looks like searching "4-up 12 by 18 template publisher" on Google returns official Microsoft templates, among others, and even looking at them may help you!

I don't know anything exporting to PDF from Publisher (I use InDesign for most print jobs) but I do know about print prepress and PDFs. I'm assuming that when you save as a PDF, the dialog that comes up will ask if you want to embed fonts in the PDF, which you do want to, and it may give you a copyright warning about sharing fonts. It's okay to embed a font to send to the printer, or to send along the typefaces (fonts) used in your project with the native Publisher (also called art) files.

The hi-res part means two things. First, they want all images you use in the art file (pictures, logos, etc) to be at least 220 dpi (dots per inch), 300 dpi is the general standard but don't hesitate to ask them what they prefer. Screen images are only 72 dpi so they print very low quality, and they're also in RGB, not CMYK. Not sure how much of this you already know, and it's a lengthy explanation, so I'm going to assume all the artwork used in your project (pictures, logos, etc) are fine and skip to the second part of hi-res, which is the PDF. The export to PDF dialog box should also allow you to specify PDF quality, and it if it says "print quality", that's probably just what you need. This will export everything in your file at a high enough resolution for printing and downsample any unnecessarily huge images. If it asks, you want 300 dpi, and this is also the time to make sure the bleeds and crop marks are being exported to PDF.

You are 100% welcome to memail me if you have any questions—I love this stuff! Did they give you their preferred PDF specifications? Again, I don't know if Publisher gives you the power to choose this but there are different standards for PDFs and it is way, WAY too complicated to go into here but let us know if they ask for something specific (usually it's PDF/X-1a:2001, which would just mean you pick that if given an option when you export.)

Phew. Good luck! Printing is extremely confusing; every designer I know depends heavily on their printer for explaining all this stuff because it's just intimidating to keep up with it all.
posted by thesocietyfor at 8:04 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

They should not be asking you to do the imposition on this. I have never ever been asked to do this sort of thing, and I've been sending files to printers for a decade now. I have always sent my PDF (with bleeds if needed) and the print shop takes it from there. This way they can make the plates however they need to do that they can ensure a proper print and cut (especially if the file is two sided.) Find out if they really do need you to layout the file 4-up like that; this doesn't sound right. (Print shops deal with a lot of people who don't do this stuff all the time and while they typically try to be helpful, they do tend to get technical. They can't really help it; it's the language they speak all day at work. )
posted by azpenguin at 8:25 PM on December 3, 2012

As someone who worked in pre-press, I am appalled they would ask you for an imposition like this. All they should need from you is a high-resolution 1up file with bleeds (and 1/4" is a lot for bleeds -- the standard is usually 1/8" on each side.)

Imposition is possible with Publisher, but I haven't done it enough to walk you through it, and I'm not sure it can do a work and turn.

Really, if your printer can't work with a high quality 1-up file with bleeds, you should go somewhere else. This article will walk you through how to set up your file for commercial printing from Publisher 2007. I hope it's helpful.
posted by girih knot at 8:35 PM on December 3, 2012

Thanks so much for these answers. I was wondering how normal this is, so I'm glad to get the feedback that it's not normal at all!

More information: this is a work project and we have a contract with a local college. They had printed the cards for us once before but there were some not-great variations in quality (our original file did not have bleeds incorporated which is fixed now.) I wanted to get more of these cards printed, but they doubled their original quote saying it was because they were having to reposition the art and they had issues matching the front and back.

I do have the option of looking elsewhere since there were so many issues with the first round of printing, so I will take my 1-up with bleeds (yay, new vocab!) elsewhere.

Thank you also for sharing your knowledge. I appreciate the information and links, which make a lot more sense than what I had been finding on my own.
posted by rocketing at 9:52 PM on December 3, 2012

They are probably asking you to do the imposition because they don't work in Publisher, and won't be able to use the single Publisher file. A lot of printers don't even accept Publisher files.

Maybe ask them if they can do the imposition using a PDF of the single Publisher file.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:02 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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