What’s Prepress?

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Prepress is the process a document goes through before printing. It includes proofreading, editing, layout, scanning, and color separation. The document is then printed after creating a printing plate and making a proof. Prepress has become easier with desktop publishing.

Prepress is a term used in the printing industry to describe the process a document must go through before it can be printed. While usually used in connection with making the plates used in a printing press, prepress can also refer to the process of preparing a document for printing in any environment, such as using a laser or other digital printing format.

The steps considered part of the prepress process vary from company to company, but generally include proofreading, editing, layout, scanning, and color separation. Some companies may consider layout and other graphic tasks as part of a graphic design department. Other steps include converting any digital file into a format that the printing company can use, for example, distilling a document into Adobe® PDF (portable document format).

The usual journey of a document, from creation to prepress to print, generally follows three steps. First, the document is created by an author, graphic designer, or other creative professional. Then, the document is sent to prepress. During a prepress professional’s review, your document goes through many stages, including the following:
proofreading for spelling and typo errors,
ensuring that all images and other graphics are in a suitable format,
separate colors for printing on a two- to four-color color press,
checking that all characters arrive correctly e
checking general layout guidelines, such as margins and paper size.

Finally, the document is edited and ready to be printed on a printing press. A printing plate is created and a proof is made, a copy used as an example. The draft is usually checked by staff and, if satisfactory, the document can be printed.

Prepress has become easier since the advent of desktop publishing and often the work of multiple staff members can now be done by one person. Sometimes, prepress work is done by the graphic design department along with document typesetting.

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