Kevin Answers Questions About Old & New Software

There seems to be a recurring theme in my e-mail lately. Problems related to outdated and just released applications seem to abound. Fortunately, my e-mail includes enough variety to keep things interesting. Below are a few of the calls for help I’ve received over the past few weeks:

From Tami, in North Dakota

Hey Kevin,

In InDesign, I’ve designed a two color envelope with a graduated screen in the background with small type over it. When I print it, there is a knockout behind all the text (causing registration problems). I would like to set it so it wouldn’t knock out the screen behind the 10-point type. Where do I find that setting?

Kevin:
That’s an easy one, Tami. Go to your InDesign Preferences and look for Appearance of Black in the sidebar. There is an option to Always Overprint Black. Select that option and all should be well. (Note: Tami wrote back to report this fixed her overprinting problem.)

From Scott, in Tennessee

Our staff has finally migrated completely to OS X Macs and applications. Our ad builders are creating ads in InDesign and exporting them out as PDFs. The pagination department has no trouble importing these ads, using InDesign CS2 and CS3. However, our sister paper is still using QuarkXPress 4.11 in a classic Mac environment. The spot color ads, once placed on the Quark pages, are separating on all four plates. The latest QuarkXPress PDF import filter I can find is version 1.6. What setting within InDesign CS3 can our ad builders use to create spot color ads exported as PDFs that will separate correctly for our pagination staff using InDesign CS2 as well as our sister paper, using QuarkXPress 4.1? Any help you can provide regarding these settings would be greatly appreciated.

Kevin:

Well, Scott, the problem isn’t in InDesign or QuarkXPress. It’s in the way you’re creating the PDF files. Files exported from InDesign, as well as other applications, simply cause lots of problems when printed. Your staff should be creating PostScRIPt files of the ads, then converting them to PDF using Acrobat Distiller. That should take care of the problems you’ve been having. (Scott sent a note a few days later to let me know this fixed the problem. Both QuarkXPress and InDesign are happy with the PDF files these days.)

From Shirley, in Minnesota

Is there a difference if you print to PostScRIPt, then distill, versus exporting to EPS and distilling?

Kevin:

Yes, Shirley, there’s a big difference. Although saving a file as EPS, then distilling, works fine in most cases, saving a document as a PostScRIPt file first is more dependable. Fortunately, the recent versions of InDesign and QuarkXPress make writing a PostScRIPt file as easy as clicking a couple of buttons.

From Doug, in Rhode Island

I received a PDF, used Pitstop 4.6 to preflight it and the report did not indicate any errors. When I converted the PDF to an EPS, imported it into a Quark document (version 4.1) and sent it to our Harlequin RIP, the photos dropped out. According to the report (attached) the PDF was created in Illustrator. Did the photos drop out because they weren’t attached correctly to begin with?

Kevin:

Doug has run into a problem that’s becoming more prevalent. Older applications, including QuarkXPress 4.1, just can’t handle some of the new technology being used today. PDFs now contain features, such as transparencies, that weren’t available back in the 90s, when QuarkXPress 4 was released. It’s time to admit that newspapers can’t continue to use old software without paying a price.

I’ve received frantic calls from newspapers who couldn’t get their pages to print or faced other deadline emergencies due to old software. Several newspaper groups pay a hefty fee for my advice. Let me give you some free advice. Update your technology before it’s too late.

From Nancy, in Saskatchewan

Hi Kevin,

PageMaker is driving me crazy. Whenever I create PDFs (I use InDesign & Acrobat Distiller) and send them to Mac PageMaker users, especially if they contain spot colors, they can’t seem to print them correctly. Tell me there’s a secret you can share to correct the PageMaker problem.

Kevin:

This isn’t a problem you created, Nancy. It’s hard to believe PageMaker is as old as it is. I started using the application in the mid 80s, when it was first released. It won’t even run on newer Macs. I find it hard to believe newspapers can stay in business but can’t afford to upgrade from PageMaker to InDesign. If that’s the case, I suspect they won’t be in business much longer. I tried to put that as gently as I could, Nancy.

From Jamie, in Minnesota

I saw you at the Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention and, as usual, enjoyed it immensely. We are in the process of trying to upgrade to either Quark or InDesign. Because we were already using Quark, we bought copies of QuarkXPress 6.5 and a 7.0 to try out - and are having plenty of trouble with them! Can you tell me that this transition would be easier with InDesign? I have one brand new computer running 10.5 Leopard and Quark 7.0 and it just won’t work!

Kevin:

Nice touch with the opening compliment, Jamie. Here’s the answer: Maybe. Maybe not. I have been to newspapers where moving to InDesign solved most or all of their printing problems. However, I suspect your problems might be related more to Leopard than to QuarkXPress. Users have been bombarding blogs, forums and my e-mail with tales of printing - and other - problems after upgrading to Leopard (OS 10.5). Some folks don’t have any problems after upgrading. Others have tremendous difficulties.

Let me suggest two possibilities. The least expensive option might be to do a clean install of OS 10.4 on your machine, then install QuarkXPress. If the problems go away, then you know where they were coming from. Another option would be to install InDesign on your machine (keeping OS 10.5) and see if it has similar problems. If not, you may have answered your own question. Either way, I’d be interested in hearing how this turns out.
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April 03, 2008 at 12:00am
You mentioned the problems people are having with earlier versions of page layout software because it does not handle the transparency that is supported in newer Postscript/PDF versions.

After using Acrobat 7.0 for some time, I've noticed that whenever I save a Postscript file from a PDF that contains transparency, at least some part of the transparency is flattened by Acrobat before the Postscript is saved. This is true even when I set everything (Distiller and Adobe PDF driver) to Postscript level 3 and Acrobat 7 (PDF 1.6) compatibility.

Is there a way I can redistill a PDF that contains transparency without flattening that transparency?

David Merrill, IT & Graphics Manager
Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association
dmerrill@orenews.com
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