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  • Newspaper printing problem

    One of my projects is working for a small tabloid newspaper. With our latest issue, there were some printing problems on a 4/C spread. Some of the headlines were out of register -- you can see an unintentional white outline around some of the headline text and another outline (in a different colour) around another headline.

    The main concern, however, is that one of our main photos has printed VERY dark to the point that you can't see the person's face -- it almost looks scary as you can't see her teeth and it's very dark around her face as well. We've had one similar print problem in the past. Fortunately, this time, no ads have been affected. Just looking for feedback in terms of how to respond to the printer and if we should pursue any compensation and, if so, how to calculate it. I realize that pics will print darker on newsprint but this photo is very dark.

    Thanks in advance.

    Rob
    Last edited by GreenDiesel-CNR; 10-04-2013, 02:32 PM.

  • #2
    There are 3 things that you need to be aware of when designing for newsprint:
    • Dot gain
    • Registration issues
    • Ink density
    Registration

    Newspapers can be horrific in terms of registration. Newspapers often specify pt size and that all text should be set in 100% black only.

    I doubt you can persue compensation as registration issues are a common problem for newspapers. But worth a shot I suppose...Perhaps you will get a discount on your next job.

    Ink Density

    What software did you design in? Most newspapers have a maximum ink density recommendation like 230% coverage. If you go over 230% in many parts of your photo you can expect that it will look like mud. If you are working in Indesign you can set ink density to 230% and it will highlight all your problem areas.
    It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

    Comment


    • #3
      Small newspaper tabloids are notorious for some of the worst printing on the planet. In addition to what Buda said, which I completely agree with, Photoshop has color settings especially for newsprint. When you're in RGB mode and before converting to CMYK, make sure those settings are in place since they'll help compensate for the dot gain that you'll get.

      When working with newsprint, you pretty much need to make everything lighter than you might think it should be, make the contrast a bit greater and be sure to use Photoshop's sharpening filters to sharpen the photo just a bit more than you think looks good. Also, in whatever layout application you're using, make appropriate use of overprinting and knocking out background colors. A lot of possible registration issues can be avoided by overprinting dark colors over light or knocking headlines out of the background color, then manually adding an overprinting stroke of a point or so.

      I worked at a newspaper for 15 years, and you eventually learn all the little tricks to get the best out of the worst printing. When I left, I actually had some difficulty readjusting to good-quality offset work.

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      • #4
        Thanks for this feedback -- this is very helpful. I'm using InDesign &. Photoshop. I'll check the ink density as well. I'm used to working on a magazine that uses a glossy 45- & 60-lb stock so this is a bit of an adjustment. Thanks also for the tips re knocking out headlines.

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        • #5
          I've just been looking into this. In the future, I will check the ink density in InDesign before printing and will lighten the photos in Photoshop, especially any that are flagged in InDesign.

          Also, when printing white text onto a very dark background, I understand that I should do this as I normally do but then manually place another copy of the white words (but about a point or so larger) on top of these white words to reduce the possibility of registration problems.

          Thanks again, Rob

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by GreenDiesel-CNR View Post
            Also, when printing white text onto a very dark background, I understand that I should do this as I normally do but then manually place another copy of the white words (but about a point or so larger) on top of these white words to reduce the possibility of registration problems.
            No. I have no idea what that would achieve.

            It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Buda View Post
              Originally posted by GreenDiesel-CNR View Post
              Also, when printing white text onto a very dark background, I understand that I should do this as I normally do but then manually place another copy of the white words (but about a point or so larger) on top of these white words to reduce the possibility of registration problems.
              No. I have no idea what that would achieve.
              Thanks... I was just checking that I correctly understood <b>'s suggestions as a means to reduce registration problems. Maybe he/she could clarify later. Cheers, Rob

              Comment


              • #8
                What you're describing is a technique for creating a trap by spreading the white into some of the ink colors but not the others. It's only practical in certain instances, however. I'll explain.

                Let's say you were using a rich black background composed of 100% black and various percentages of the other process colors. Let's say you wanted to knock out white 12pt type from that rich black. Well, unless the newspaper registration is perfect, you're going to risk some nice little colored edges on those white letters. Here's how to manually create that trap to prevent it:

                It's a little hard to describe, but... If the rich black is, say, 15c,15m,15y,100k, you'd create the background color using only 15c,15m,15y. Place the white type over it, and give all the type, say, a 1 or 0.5-pt white stroke (set to knock out). It'll look unreadable at this point, but that's okay. Next, over the top of all that, place another layer that's 100k, making sure that it's set to overprint (surprint). Copy the white text from beneath that layer, and paste the copy of the white text exactly on top of the 100k layer, then remove the white stroke from the top copy of the type.

                If you've followed my poorly worded explanation, what this does is spread the white text out and choke back all the inks except for the black. This creates a point's worth of extra registration wiggle room.

                It really only works when you're knocking out type from a rich black, however. Since the black is, well, black and very dark, the missing colors beneath the black where the trap lies isn't all that noticeable. However, using that same technique in other ink combinations than a rich black is going to result in a stupid-looking colored outline around all the letters. For example, a 100c100y background is going to be green. Knock out white type from that and you'll again run the risk of a press registration problem. But unlike with the rich black, choking back, say, the yellow will only result in creating a weird cyan outline around all the text on the green background.

                Also keep in mind, that the press might be further out of registration than a point or that the prepress people might automatically be doing all this stuff for you if they're on the ball and have the right software. You really need to know the situation to pull off this technique effectively. Like I mentioned, I worked for 15 years at a newspaper, and I figured out a whole bunch of little tricks that worked for me at that newspaper on those presses with those pressmen, but most everything I've mentioned might be inappropriate and unnecessary elsewhere at another newspaper. For all I know the tabloid you're working with is printed on an ancient web press where the registration routinely wanders off by several dots before it's manually brought back into registration by a half-intoxicated pressman who really doesn't care. If that's the case, all your fine-tuning is wasted anyway.

                By the way, I've used this technique on text and gotten away with it, but it works better on large headlines. In a newspaper with less-than-good printing quality, it's just best to avoid the problem in the first place and not print white text on a black background.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the info and clarification above. I think I understand it! I'm going to keep this for future reference as I have occasionally printed large white headlines onto dark backgrounds as well as smaller text. This also reminds me of techniques used in the film days. Cheers, Rob

                  Comment


                  • B
                    B commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yup, that's where I started (before computers). Prepress used to be all about shooting and stripping film. All the various techniques to do things like trapping, spreading and choking have all been replaced with software functions.

                • #10
                  I work in prepress and most days my job is about tricking the computer into printing client files not how they've set it up, but how they want it to look. One trick might not work for every file. There's an arsenal of tips and tricks. I hadn't heard of the double hit white text one though.
                  It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

                  Comment

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