How to preflight files for a UK printer
June 27, 2006 6:30 AM   Subscribe

US graphic designer needs to learn about best practices in prepress for offset printing in the UK. Software, file formats, etc.

I'm a graphic designer in my firm's US office; I'm going to be preparing some files for printing in the UK for our London office. Recently a collegue submitted an InDesign file for print in the UK, and received a "Sorry, we don't handle that format" reply from our UK printer. Unfortunately, no one in our London office has any print design/prepress experience, so they can't answer my questions -- and eventually, I'll need to give them some training and bring them up to speed.

So what file formats can most London-area printers handle? What layout software (Quark, InDesign, other?) are designers in London using these days? I'm especially wondering if InDesign is generally unsupported, or if we're just using an antediluvian print shop.

Yes, PDF and EPS formats should get us across any rough spots, but I'd like to understand standard UK prepress procedure as much as possible.
posted by junkbox to Technology (3 answers total)
I'm not a professional designer but have just finished a design course and we were told to
1. generally use PDF
2. ask the printer if in any doubt

From what I understand many/most firms have moved over or are moving over to InDesign, though Quark is still being used too.
But I would never expect a printer to be able to handle native InDesign files and am surprised that they would in the US.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 6:44 AM on June 27, 2006

InDesign is generally unsupported, and because it generates such good PDFs and most people do their own images now, there isn't really a drive to have it adopted.

Designers are largely using InDesign in my experience, although Quark still has a huge stronghold, but as far as repro goes, it's PDF all the way.

BTW: Are you doing colour? I imagine you know that UK inks are generally different from those used in the US, so it'd be best to get a spec sheet from your printer.
posted by bonaldi at 7:24 AM on June 27, 2006

I find that most printers in and around London will accept InDesign, Quark or PDF files just fine. It sounds like you found an arsey one :)

My company uses a range of suppliers for print all around the South of England and we haven't had a problem yet. As for the inks, if you set up your files using CS2's European colour presets you won't go far wrong (you can set up the colour management prefs from within Bridge for all the CS2 apps - just choose Europe Prepress 2). Be aware though, that Euro Pantone inks are slightly different from US ones.

As for general prepress procedures - well, I'd guess that they are almost the same as they are where you are. The Printer will run the file through Flightcheck or PitStop and bawl you out if you've been stupid :) Note that a lot of printers here are moving to a CTP/JDF workflow, so checking film is becoming a bit less common. Press checks are still a necessary evil for important jobs, though - it may be as well to train your staff in the art of the linen tester. If you want more info - and a list of printers who do fine work and will work with whatever you send them, drop me a line. My e-mail's in my profile.
posted by ninthart at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2006

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