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Download free What to Teach Graphic Design Students About Printing Industry Guidelines.pdf Prepress departments in printing companies are, for numerous reasons, downsizing. As a result, there are fewer people on hand to correct errors in jobs presented to the printing company by graphic designers. Therefore, it is more important than ever for designers to prepare completed files as accurately as possible. National and international associations have produced guidebooks, such as SNAP, GRACoL, SWOP, and FIRST. If students of graphic design know and utilize the guidelines included in these guidebooks, they are likely to prepare files that will effectively pass through the print workflow.

This article reviews a few of the more important recommendations of SNAP, GRACoL, SWOP, and FIRST that graphic design students must know to be effective practitioners in the twenty-first century publishing profession.

Over the past decade, there has been an unmistakable trend in printing companies to downsize prepress departments. A firm may have once employed dozens of people who operated cameras, retouched film, duplicated films, operated scanners, assembled film onto flats, and made proofs and plates. Today, that same firm may function with five or six prepress personnel.

Why is this occurring? Prepress department downsizing is primarily due to price competition that is a consequence of, among other things, the recession of the early 2000’s, tighter corporate print-buying budgets, internet portals that allow buyers to get quotes from multiple printers from their desktops, shift of content from print to electronic media, and improved technology that allows printers to do much more work in far less time. In addition, advertising agencies realized that a great deal of their potential revenue was being lost to prepress service providers. In their minds, bringing prepress processes in-house would allow them to acquire that revenue and increase their profitability (R. Zucca, SWOP Chair, telephone communication, August 19, 2005). However, none of these issues would have precipitated prepress department downsizing if the power and price of robust computer hardware and software had not dropped to the point that graphic designers and ad agencies could afford to buy their own robust workstations.


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