In this article, we will review the file formats that are used to save graphics or photos to be placed in page layout software (QuarkXPress, Pagemaker, InDesign, Publisher) for inclusion in a layout or publication. While there are many formats (for instance JPEG) that will work in most situations, we are going to recommend a traditional approach and suggest that all graphics or photos be saved to the most stable formats that are available: TIF or EPS files. There are a number of exceptions to this rule, but following it will save a lot of headaches for a majority of desktop publishers and designers.

TIF Files

TIF (Tagged Image File Format) files are the recommended file formats for most bitmaps (scans). They are very stable and virtually never cause problems when being printed. [inset side="left" title=""]TIF (Tagged Image File Format) files are the recommended file formats for most bitmaps (scans). They are very stable and virtually never cause problems when being printed. [/inset]One notable exception to this rule is if TIFs are rotated in your layout application. The amount of extra work that is required when your software prints the file can often crash even the most robust of RIPs (high end print servers). If you need to rotate a TIF image, perform the rotation in your source software (i.e. Photoshop, Photopaint, etc.). Not only will this make the file more stable, it will also cut down on the time it takes to print. One of the weaknesses of TIF files is that they can not store Pantone colour information. For print purposes, you are only able to save your TIFs as CMYK (full colour), greyscale or 1 bit b&w (line art) files. If you are working with spot colours, you will have to look at some of the options that are available with EPS files. Also, some page layout packages allow you to label a greyscale or 1 bit image as a single spot colour.

EPS Files

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) is the file format of choice for vector graphics (CorelDraw, Illustrator, etc.) and for bitmap graphics that have spot colours. EPS is a great format because it is one of the only formats that allows vector graphics to remain as vectors, thus making them resolution independent (you can scale them to any size without the image quality degrading). EPS files also maintain the PostScript colours that you specify for them in your source application. For bitmaps (scans, photos), eps files allow you to save them as duotones, a feature which allows you to use up to four spot colours and have them embedded in the file (as monotones, duotones, tritones or quadtones). There are a number of restrictions to the duotone feature, so refer to your software documentation or look for info on the web to find out how to make it work for you.

 

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