Tips and Workarounds

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When sending a file to your printer, always be sure to convert all your text to outlines.

Here is a scenario.

You’ve got a design for a new tradeshow, banner stand, flyer or even something as simple as a business card.  The design is perfect.  You love it.  You (or your designer) have spent many long hours on the project, matching colours and making sure sizes and bleeds are up to spec.  Making sure it fits your company and your brand.

You’re given the green light (or you give the green light), and send it off to print.  You notice your printer accepts a few different file types (.ai, .psd, .eps and so on).  Great.  Your file is already an .ai file, as you made it in Illustrator.  (Maybe .eps, you get my point.  These tips should be used even if you are sending your file as a pdf.)

This is how it looks on your computer.


After sending it off, you wait patiently for a screen proof to return from your printer.  It shows up, and you notice when you open the file that either some, or all, of your fonts have changed.  It’s all wrong.  Or, better yet, your printer comes back and asks for your text to be converted to outlines.



How your file is seen on another computer.


What happened?

Fonts on your computer are specific to your computer.  Yes, quite a few are installed by default on most computers, like ‘Times New Roman’ or some ‘Arial, but there is no guarantee that the font you’ve used will be universal.  Even if you use ‘Garamond’, your designer or printer might have a slightly different (ie: ‘Adobe Garamond Pro’) which might cause unnecessary font substitutions.

Their program (ie Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, etc…) will automatically fill in a substitute font in place of yours, which is not something we want to happen.


So what can you do?

After your files are tweaked and perfected, just before they’re ready to be sent to your printer, you can convert all your text to outlines.

What does that mean?

Short answer, it makes all your text into shapes.

** Please note that this means it will no longer be editable, so save a back-up of your file with the text preserved for future use.  There is nothing worse than opening an old file to update a minor text entry only to find that everything has been flattened. **

To do this, depending on your design program of choice, takes two easy steps.

I am going to use Adobe Illustrator, but the steps work for InDesign too.




1.  Select all of the text in your file (Ctrl+A, or the top menu Select > Select All).  Nothing will happen to any other objects, so do not worry about selecting everything here.  If you’ve set-up you file so that all your text is on one layer, even better.




2.  Now select Type > Create Outlines from the top menu.




You will notice the base line for the type is gone, and the letters are now outlined.  They are no longer text, and will retain their appearance.




Now you can send this file for printing.  Simple.

Aside from sending files to your printer, converting fonts to outline is a must for creating logos or corporate identities.  There is no telling who will end up needing to put a company’s logo in a design, or what fonts may or may not be installed on their systems.

Catalogue Cover for Spot UV

A spot UV coating is a high gloss finish that is applied to certain graphic elements of a printed, marketing piece. If you’re considering printing spot UV business cards or other marketing pieces with a spot coating, you’ll need to set up your print ready files a specific way so they’re acceptable to your printer. In this video we’ll take you through the set up process so you’ll be able to supply those files. We recently completed a Spot UV project for Newcomp Analytics; we’ll use their catalogue design created in Adobe InDesign (shown above) to illustrate  our methods.

To view this video in full screen mode click the icon at the bottom right.
Our first step will be to create a new layer for the spot UV elements. Let’s click the layers icon and click New Layer and name the layer Spot UV.

Create a new layer in InDesign

Create a new layer in Adobe InDesign.

Now we’ll need to decide which elements will receive the Spot UV coating; you can apply Spot UV to logos, images, text or even an area that has none of the above. In our case we’ll be choosing a logo, web address and images. Let’s hold down our Shift key and single click the items we want spot UV to be applied to and then click Edit and Copy.



On the layers menu click the Spot UV  layer, then click the Edit drop down menu and select Paste in Place to paste the elements onto the Spot UV layer.


Click Edit>Paste In Place

Using Paste in Place ensures the chosen items will be in the exact position as the original which is very important when adding a Spot UV coating. We’ve now pasted the elements onto the Spot UV layer, let’s turn off the other layers to confirm we’ve got all of the elements we want Spot UV applied to.

Turn the layers off

Turn the layers off

Now we’ll need to switch all of the chosen items to 100% black, this ensures your printer we’ll be able to produce a plate for only the spot UV items. Lets press Ctrl+A (Edit>Select All) to select all of the items on the Spot UV layer, then click the Swatches icon and click Black.

Click Swatches Black

Click Swatches Black

We now have all of our Spot UV elements set up to output to the black/Spot UV plate.

If you’ve got all the correct items on your spot UV layer choose the Object drop down and select Lock, this locks these items in position ensuring they can’t accidentally be moved out of position which would cause the spot UV to be printed in the wrong location.

Click Object>Lock

We’re now ready to produce a press quality PDF for the Spot UV. With only the Spot UV layer turned on lets click File > Export to create your Spot UV PDF.



This PDF should be ouput as Press Quality with crops marks,  .375″ bleeds and have SpotUV in the filename.

Export Press Quality PDF

Export Press Quality PDF

Lets produce a press quality PDF for the CMYK print job. With the Spot UV layer turned off and your other layers turned on lets click File > Export to create your PDF. This PDF should be ouput as Press Quality with crops marks and a .375″ .

Turn your Spot UV Layer off

Turn your Spot UV Layer off

To test the position of your Spot UV file you can open your CMYK PDF in Adobe Acrobat and insert the Spot UV PDF as a page, if you toggle between the pages you should see no movement in the position of the matching elements.

Test your files for aligment

Test your files for alignment

Alternatively you can also toggle the Spot UV layer on and off and achieve a similar result.

The picture below is the completed catalogue with spot UV on the front and back cover.

Insert picture here

You now have press quality PDFs of the CMYK print job and Spot UV that can be sent to your printer for successful completion. If you have any questions on this please don’t hesitate to call 1.800.350.7152 for assistance.


ID-10084691Trade shows are still a great way to promote your products and meet potential customers on a personal level, but they aren’t the same as they used to be. Now it’s not enough to have a good product and some brochures, you need to have a cohesive marketing package that attracts attention and helps to keep the focus on your company.

Technology and social media are increasingly being relied upon in the trade show arena to draw audiences and promote events, while booths are being designed to increase engagement as well as respect visitors’ space. Check out these trade show trends for some great ideas:

Looking for the WOW Factor

Chic, cool, and stylish displays are what it’s all about. Combined with technology like plasma screens and high-tech lighting today’s trade show displays are meant to embark a feeling of mystery and intrigue to pique visitor’s curiosity and encourage them to find out more.

Interaction = Engagement

The more you can get a visitor to interact with your trade show booth, the longer they will stay (and that’s good for business). Today’s trade show booths really push the boundaries of engagement – with touch screen displays, social media invites to special demos, even interactive games via a Smartphone app. Creativity is awarded, so companies should consider the options that can put their booth ahead of the crowd.

“No Sales” Space

Rather than hovering over visitors to give them a sales pitch, trade show attendees are designing trade show booths to visitors some space to explore the product on their own, with a sales person on hand nearby if any questions come up. This lower-pressure environment is resulting in positive sales – so perhaps it’s time for a redesign?


As the amount of literature handed out during a trade show could restore an entire forest, it’s no wonder that trendy trade show participants are making an effort to “go green” and reduce their environmental impact. QR codes to download sales material can easily replace printed brochures or catalogues and can be placed anywhere – not just adjacent to the booth. In addition to helping the planet this option also cuts down on your cuts by reducing the amount of material you need to carry.

Getting Social

It’s almost like social media was made for trade shows – where else can you tell people about upcoming events, update them during the event, as well as letting them know how it went? That’s right, social media is it, and if you aren’t using it to promote your product before, during, and after trade shows then you’re really missing out.

So there it is the top trade show trends for 2013. Which one do you think your company should focus on to up your game? It could be one, two, or all of them. Remember that you can’t go wrong by following in other’s footsteps; it keeps you from being left behind.

Photo Credit: Keawpiko

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