It’s the End of Type as We’ve Known it.

You’ve no doubt heard that Adobe products will no longer support Type1 fonts. Although Photoshop support ended in November 2021, January 2023 will end support for InDesign. Having had a mac, and fonts, since 1992… I have designed hundreds if not thousands, of projects built with Type1 fonts which comprise the majority of the thousands of fonts I own on my computers.

I was recently working on edits to a book and was having numerous problems with the Type1 fonts ScalaSans and Minion Pro. I decided to use the Adobe Cloud Open Type versions, but alas it did not include the small caps, ornaments or the figures… all of which I had used in Character and Paragraph Styles for the project. Which meant I had to rebuild the style sheets that used these fonts with the Adobe OpenType versions and give up on some of the features that made me choose that typeface in the first place. 🙁

This led to hours and hours of research about what exactly was going to happen in January! Oy.

After watching a few videos and reading numerous articles I identified all the Type1 fonts on my systems and pulled them into a collection (FontBook) or removed them from the system (FontExplorer – which is also being discontinued! I am so sad, it has been THE BEST MOST SOLID FONT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE EVER IMHO). I won’t be using them on projects going forward and didn’t want them gumming up my fonts menus.

I also decided that rather than sell my mid2012 MacBookPro running CS6 I am going to keep it to edit legacy projects with OSX intact. How long this will be a viable solution is dependent on several factors, but with a souped up SSD drive inside… I am hoping it will be very stable. 

To sum up what I have learned over the past few weeks, the challenge will be in editing and repurposing files built with Type1 fonts.In order to edit a file built with a Type1 font after January 2023:

  1. You will have to substitute the font in InDesign CC as Adobe will no longer “see” the Type1 font on your system.
  2. If you substitute for the OpenType version (on your hard drive) of your Type1 font you will very, very, likely have reflow issues.. Some OpenType versions are completely different!
  3. You can edit the file on an older system and the pdf will work just fine in InDesign or other software that can handle a pdf.

If you have the original purchase receipt you may be able to get an upgrade via the foundry, for a discount. Sadly I do not think this is a viable option for many individuals and businesses. Who has a receipt for a font that was purchased on a floppy disk? Who keeps emails for 20 years?

Software exists to convert a Type1 font to OpenType. Here are some caveats:

  1. Your conversion done on your desktop may not match other conversions. This may start a chain of nightmares when sending files to printers.
  2. Web based converters cannot handle Mac Type1 but they can handle windows.

How about the future? As of today Mac OS 12.5 still recognizes Type1 fonts but that might not always be true. I will not be using Type1 fonts in any project except for maybe personal stuff.

I think the best our design/print community can do is to prepare for longer times to prep files and make edits to projects created with Type1 fonts, and if possible keep a legacy machine going for those edits. By talking to customers now you can prepare them for the time and costs involved in this transition. And for goodness sake, don’t give this time away!

I am a big believer in not leaving things to the last minute. And if you have down time and know about projects that will come in for edits after January 2023… take a look now and see what you will be up against. 

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What is a Press-Check and What Are You Supposed to Do?

Back in the olden days of digital prepress and printing, when proofs bore no resemblance to what would show up on press, the designer would be invited to a “press check” at the printing plant. This was so that the designer could approve and sign off on the actual job in addition to already having signed off on proofs (I use the term proofs loosely, compared to what we have today they were stabs in the dark. It’s a whole other post, but there’s a difference between a proof predicting how the printed job will look and the proof showing what the file looks like when printed to SWOP standards. Like I said, it’s another post.)

So you might be invited to do a press-check. Or your boss might say, I need you to press-check every job that prints, or agency standards may dictate mandatory press-checks. The reality is there are only a few circumstances today that warrant a press-check. After learning what those circumstances are, you can decide if you want to tell your boss whether or not you need to be out of the office for half a day, I will leave that up to you ;-).

So when do you need to be at a press check? What’s changed since the dawn of digital prepress? Today we have contract proofing that really predicts what the printed job will look like. We have drawdowns made by very precise ink mixing technology. We have papers with plate curves loaded into press control panels with scanning densitometers built-in! I mean, wow, what can go wrong?

If it is a routine printing job probably nothing will go wrong, but not every job is routine.

These situations call for a press check:

  • If your printer’s workflow is Gracol certified and you are uneasy about the way the proof looks, do a press check. If you are uneasy about the proof and your printer is not Gracol certified and says “We will make sure it looks like you want on press” demand a press check.
  • If you are printing on colored paper
  • If your design calls for overprinting
  • If the paper is “unusual,” or you are working with synthetic papers, suede finishes, etc.
  • If your printer said, “We haven’t done this before, but let’s give it a shot.”
  • If your printer wants you there.
  • If you are mixing a spot color with process colors, such as Hexachrome, hifi or touch plates.
  • If you will get fired if the color is not “perfect.”
  • If you are using a printer for the first time.
  • If you are using a printing method you have never used before, or you are experimenting.

If you choose to be at a press check for a job, then you MUST take responsibility for decisions made there. It’s best to be aware of your responsibilities during a press check. So what should you be doing at the press check? Really, all you have to do is look at the proof you signed off on, compare it to the press sheet and make sure they are very similar. Sometimes an exact match is unrealistic. There is some etiquette and protocol to being on a press check. There’s also etiquette and protocol on the part of the printer. Here are the manners from both sides:

Customer Etiquette

  • Do be on time.
  • Don’t use the press check to check for trim, bleeds, spelling, dates, phone numbers, addresses, or anything that should have been caught on the proof.
  • Do check that what is on the plate is what was on the proof (i.e., the same file, same edition, etc.) We’ve all seen a wrong file make it to plating or on press.
  • Do make sure the proof you signed off on is at the press check so you can compare its color and content to what is being printed. If changes were marked on the proof, check that they are on the press sheet.
  • Do compare drawdowns, if you have them, and make sure they match the press sheet if you approved drawdowns before going on press.
  • Don’t freak out at however much money your employer is spending and decide to question everything. That press is costing at least several hundred dollars an hour, and every minute you tie up is time the printer cannot sell again. Your printer will get annoyed if you consistently make press checks take more time than necessary, or he may start to include that cost in your future estimates.
  • Do recognize that making changes on press, such as a copy change that needs a new plate or a color change, are billable alterations.
  • Do try to see your project with a fresh eye. If you go in looking for a specific problem, you are going to miss the giant red flag staring you in the face.
  • Do not be afraid of speaking up. A press check can be intimidating. If you have a concern, voice it.

Printer Etiquette:

  • Do be on time. Respect your client’s time if you want her to respect yours. Notify the client if you are running more than an hour behind schedule.
  • Do have the client’s signed-off proof and drawdowns ready and available. A client standing around and waiting for someone to dig up the proof makes your print shop look disorganized.
  • Don’t steamroll the customers into making a decision. If there’s a tough call, help them weigh their options. Make a pro/con list. Be supportive and share your expertise. Bring in senior management if that’s not your strong suit.
  • Do provide a clean, quiet area for your clients to wait between checks. Ideally, give them internet access so they can work, and coffee, tea, water, and some kind of snack. Nobody wants to have a hangry customer!
  • Don’t get your wires crossed. If the client asks for something and the rep and pressman instantly contradict one another with a yes and a no, that isn’t good. Decide who is going to answer questions at the outset.
  • Do give your clients a trimmed-out sheet for their boss. Everyone back at the office wants to see what the new brochure/gift card/packaging looks like.
  • Do listen to your customers and don’t feel personally insulted if they find something wrong during the press check. (We once had a brilliant New York agency-trained art director say that the 7pt. font wasn’t trapping correctly to the background solid, and she wanted a loupe to check. Damn if she wasn’t right! She earned our respect for doing her job and displaying her training and technical knowledge.)
  • If your customer hasn’t had a plant tour or you’ve added a capability, show him what you are up to. I have never seen a designer or print buyer who wasn’t curious about the goings-on at a printing plant. Now that the technology has changed so much and press checks are infrequent, giving a customer a tour makes even better sense.
  • Do take the time to introduce your client to the other team members who keep the jobs running smoothly, such as the production staff, estimator, prepress person, receptionist, etc.
  • If your customer has never been on a press check, give her the low down on what she should be looking for. This is your opportunity to train your client.

There is stuff on the press sheet that is for the pressman to measure what the press is doing. You do not need to know how to read the registration marks, slur marks, color bars, gray balance or any of that. It might seem a little scary to see all that stuff on the press sheet but it will be trimmed off and will not wind up on your job.

When you are done, ask for a press sheet to take back to your team and you are outta there! Wanna know more?  Buy my book for a whole chapter on working with printers.

Do you have a press check experience to share? Please comment, I would love to hear it, good or bad!


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It’s Design Week in San Francisco

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, speaking in Kansas City MO and Greensboro NC and meeting talented, passionate creatives and craftspeople who love, love love, print! It’s so much fun to be a part of this community of makers. I always return re-invigorated and re-passionated about our industry.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to participate in SF Design Week, here’s an incentive… I will be speaking Friday at the VMA Design Conference and am just tickled pink to be included in the line-up of great speakers! Here’s a link and discount code: FRIENDS that you can only get from a speaker like yours truly! Join the hundreds of graphics peeps that will be in SF and tackle the rest of 2018 with some deep inspiration, intention, and tools to get the job done!

Last week I was interviewed by Deborah Corn, who is an amazing force in the printerverse! Here’s a link to the interview, listen as Deborah asks me some great questions about my book “Designing for Print” and it’s potential for the holiday season!

Have a great week!


10 Ways Printers Can Help Graphic Designers

This is an article I wrote for Printing Impressions a while ago and rather than rewriting it, I think it is still apropos in its entirety. If you are a designer or a printer, you can use this to reach out to your customer/vendor and start a dialog that will improve your work and your project. Speaking of which, on May 1st I will be speaking in Kansas City, MO about collaboration between printer, designer, and marketer. If you are in the neighborhood, I would love to shake your hand. Here’s the link.

10 Things Printers can Teach Designers:

Designers are visual people and the best way to teach a visual person is to show them. Graphic designers are also curious people who generally like to see how things work. We all walk around with our cameras all day, lauding their efficiency for email, Slack, twitter and more. But it is the instant transmission of images and videos that make showing easy-as-pie.

Here are 10 ways you can use your smartphone to reach out to your designer clients, add value to your company website and make life easier for yourself. (Sales managers, appoint one person to collect this kind of knowledge and disseminate to the whole sales team.)

1. Coated vs. Uncoated. Sit down with a designer and have two paper swatch books in front of you and explain coated paper versus uncoated paper. You will have saved yourself countless hours of “it looks like postcard paper” descriptions, and the like.

2. Bleeds. Take a video of your guillotine cutter in action, preferably a job with a bleed. Zoom in on the crop marks, text it to your designer client. (Put it on your website too!)

3. Grain. Look in your sample room for something with a nice black solid. Pull two samples. Fold one sample with the grain. Fold the other sample against the grain. Put them side-by-side folds-up and photograph with your phone. Open the image and crop to relevant image area and mark as a favorite in your phone for quick retrieval.

4. Waste=Cost. Show your client an illustration of paper waste for various page sizes. Here are some examples you can use: (Put it on your website too!)

5. Quantity matters. Walk into your pressroom and film a sheet-fed press at the delivery end while it is running for 30 seconds. Confirm run speed with pressman. Text video to the client explaining that’s how long it takes for (insert quantity here) brochures/posters, etc. to run through the press and why they should opt for digital printing on this short run. (At 15,000 iph 30 seconds is 125 sheets, 8-up that’s 1000 pieces!)

6. Printing is green. Calculate how many pounds of trim, corrugated and electronics you recycle each year (if your trim is picked up and weighed by a recycler they have this info). Next time your vendor picks up a container run out to the parking lot and take a pic. Put the photo on your website with an infographic of the tonnage you recycle annually. Explain that the trim and corrugated goes into future recycled paper products.

7. Ink can change color. Show your client this photo. Explain that the ink formulas with a high percentage of opaque white (basically all pastels) will shift within a year (swatch on left was two years old, on right 6 months, when photographed). Share that pastel colors are great for a short-lived item like an invitation not so great for an identity system.

8. Paper makes a difference. Next time you’ve got an attractive job with photos that’s going to run on white paper, order some extra sheets of ivory, canary and grey uncoated paper. Add those colored sheets to the job and photograph the same detail area of all four colors. Make a montage (easy with the Layout app for iPhone). Send this montage to a client who is wondering about running a job on colored stock and put it on your website too.

9. How to read a swatch book. Oh boy, if I had a penny for every time a customer found the “perfect paper” in a swatch book and placed an order specifying that sheet only to find out there wasn’t enough, or it wasn’t stocking or that the chosen color had been discontinued… This is a great topic to discuss at a quick lunch with a new customer. Text her an image showing how to look up the date of a swatch book. Then bring her some lunch and a few swatch books and show her how to “read” it.

10. Art takes time. Text your idea of a rudimentary schedule to your client as a pdf graphic they can print out and pin to their idea wall. Next time they are working with a client to develop a timeline they won’t guess and it saves them and you a call/email.

I know that some will think that answering questions and fielding problems bring value to a client, and they do. But do they bring value to a business owner? If staff is reacting/interacting at the 100-foot level, how are they going to interact at the 30,000 foot level with intention? Focus on the little things with intention and planning and then the 30,000-foot questions aren’t as scary. What are your clients’ plans for next year? Are you discussing budgets internally? Are they planning on launching any new products or services within the next six months? These conversations are really easy when “what do I need a bleed for” is taken care of.

(all images from “Designing for Print, the Art & Science, used with permission please repost with credit)