Meeting all the specifications for POD can be daunting, and even the most seasoned designer can and miss a step or two. These steps often fall into the most common print errors, listed here to help understand how these errors are made and how to quickly set them right.
In addition to the information below we have created a video series that is super fun and informative. Check out Misadventures in Print: Six most common POD errors, and enjoy a look at some of the how's and why's of Print on Demand!
1. PDF/X Compliance
If a book is not PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 compliant, our automated system will try to preflight it to be compliant.
- If the preflight is successful, the files will print.
- If it is unsuccessful, either the files will fail premedia at the printer and an email will be generated to notify you; or the printer may try to print the file, which will result in many print errors, including white boxes around art and text.
Be sure books are compliant BEFORE you upload them. Use the PDF/X-1a:2001 or PDF/X-3:2002 setting to export your PDF. If that is not an option, it can be converted using Acrobat:
- Open the file in Acrobat.
- Open the Print Production menu on the right side of the window (can also be found under the Tools menu).
- Next, open the Preflight window and click on Standards.
- Set standards to PDF/X and click through to the last window.
- Set color to (SWOP). In the pull-down below set to US Web Coated (SWOP) v2. For color compliance we suggest CGATS21_CRPC1.icc. You can download the CGATS21_CRPC1.icc profile. To install in WINDOWS, right-click a profile and select Install Profile. For MAC, copy profiles into the Hard Drive/Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder. After installing color profiles, be sure to restart Adobe applications.
- Click "Save as" and give the file a new name.
All books need a 0.125" bleed on the outside three page edges only.
To check if your bleeds are correct in Acrobat, go to the File pull-down menu and select Properties.
In the window that opens, under the Descriptions tab, there is a lot of information.
Toward the bottom of the window, you can see the Page Size listed. Since bleed is .125" on outside 3 edges, page size should be .25" taller and .125" wider than the print size once the bleed is included. For example (as you can see below), an 8.5" X 11" book should have a final page size of 8.625 X 11.25.
NOTE: This menu truncates the decimal, so it shows "8.62" even though the page size is actually 8.625.
The most common way bleed is missed is in exporting from InDesign. Once you select the compliance, InDesign defaults the bleed to none, so it needs to be turned back on.
Need more help? Watch our tutorial on Bleed, Trim, Safety and Variance!
3. Affinity Publisher Spreads Error
When exporting your Publisher file as a print-ready PDF, be sure that "All Pages" is selected not "All Spreads". See below where to find this on export.
In the PDF tab in the Export menu, make sure when exporting the interior that under Area: you select All Pages. The software currently defaults to All Spreads, which will cause the book to export in the wrong format.
Need more help? Watch our tutorial on Imposition and Page Counts!
4. Ink Coverage
Color books cannot have ink coverage that exceeds 240%.
When selecting colors in layout, set blacks to Cyan 0%, Magenta 0%, Yellow 0% and Black 100%.
If you want a richer black, you can set values to Cyan 60%, Magenta 40%, Yellow 40% and Black 100%. (The rich black may look better, but if it is layered with other elements, it may push the combination to be over ink.)
If you are working in any version of Adobe CS, ink coverage can be viewed and corrected in a few steps.
Check Ink Coverage in InDesign layout
- Click on the Window pull-down menu (1) at the top.
- Mouse over Output and select Separations Preview.
- In the window that opens, there is a little pull-down menu next to where it says View
- Select "Ink Limit" (2) and set the percent to 241% (3). This will show you all the things on your page that are over ink coverage, in red.
Ink Coverage Correction in Photoshop
- Download this ICC profile CGATS21_CRPC1.icc. To install in WINDOWS, right-click a profile and select Install Profile. For MAC, copy profiles into the Hard Drive/Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder. After installing color profiles, be sure to restart Adobe applications.
- Open the file in Photoshop.
- In the Edit pull-down menu (1), select Convert to Profile (2).
- In the menu that opens, under "Destination Space - Profile" select CGATS21_CRPC1.icc (3).
- Leave all other settings as they are.
- Save as .tif or .psd.
When the files are corrected, you can re-link them to the InDesign file or replace them in the layout file.
Ink coverage is best checked and corrected in Photoshop and replaced in the layout. If you are unable to do so, you can check and force correct in Acrobat, although the results may be poor. However, if you have no better option, the instructions to correct in Acrobat are below. If you use Acrobat to correct your PDF, be sure to proof each page before uploading to see if anything has dropped out or any color has shifted.
Check Ink Coverage in Acrobat
Open the final PDF/X in Acrobat. Click on the Print Production icon (1) to open the menu. Click "Output Preview" (2) to open that menu. In Acrobat 9 and earlier, this menu can be found in the pull-down menu: select Advanced > Print Production > Output Preview. In the window that opens, check the box next to "Total Area Coverage" and set it to 241% (3). Anything that is over ink will show up as a bright neon green.
Ink Coverage Correction in Acrobat
NOTE: There can be a large color shift when this process is used in Acrobat, which is why we consider it a last resort.
Open your final PDF/X file.
To get the best conversion, download this ICC profile CGATS21_CRPC1.icc. To install in WINDOWS, right-click a profile and select Install Profile. For MAC, copy profiles into the Hard Drive/Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder. After installing color profiles, be sure to restart Adobe applications.
- Open the Print Production menu.
- In Acrobat 9 and earlier, it's under the Advanced menu at the top.
- Choose Convert Colors. In the window that opens, find the shaded section called "Conversion Attributes".
- Change the center pull-down menu to "CGATS21_CRPC1" or if you have not downloaded it. "Japan Color 2002 Newspaper".
- Under the shaded Convert Options area, check all three boxes (Preserve Black, Promote Gray to CMYK Black, Preserve CMYK Primaries).
- Click OK. You will get a warning, click OK.
- When the file is done processing, choose "Save As" and give it a different name (so as not to save over the original file, in case there's a problem).
Please check to make sure your document is now within Ink Coverage range and that the color value is acceptable, and the file looks as you would like it to before uploading to print.
5. CID Font Embedding
CID font embedding can cause odd errors in print, such as individual letters dropping out.
To check if you have CID embedded fonts in Acrobat, open the properties menu from the File pull-down menu.
In the window that opens, select the Fonts tab and look through the font listing to see if there are any CID fonts.
The easiest way to correct CID fonts is to "Convert Fonts To Outlines". See the screen capture below for the locations of various options.
- In Acrobat, click the Print Production icon (1) (or the Tools tab on the top left between Home and Document), and open the Preflight menu (2).
- In the Preflight menu, click the little wrench tool (3) and search for fonts (4).
- In the results, you will see Convert fonts to outlines. Click through to save. We recommend saving with a new name to keep the original file. Doing so will flatten the fonts as part of the file, resolving the issue.
NOTE: It's best, of course, to avoid CID fonts to begin with if you can.