What file formatting is best for layout?

(Adapted from a blog published on the Artworks Facebook page on 11 July 2016)

After being in the industry for so long, and repeating the information over and over to our clients, we decided that we would write a list of file formatting requirements in order to speed up the layout production process and prevent frustration.

  • Clean text files – Ensure that your files are free of viruses and that they are the absolute final version of the files. If you know how to apply styles, e.g. Head 1, Body copy, etc. in MS Word, these can be translated into our layout programme (InDesign), which makes the process much quicker, especially for long or text heavy documents. 
  • Text file programme – MS Word is preferred. Supply a printed proof with your electronic file. Text can be copied and pasted out of Adobe Acrobat files, but make sure that they are not scanned documents.
  • Financials – Most auditors provide files in MS Excel, which is the best programme to work in with figures. Ensure that you don’t have links embedded to files called ‘macros’, which often bomb the file out or stall the programme when trying to extract information. Make sure that you ask your auditors to release the MS Excel version of the file if their programme locks out access to third parties. Otherwise, layout artists can always just place the pdf files as is.
  • Photographs – Supply high resolution, not web quality images for printed publications (300 dots per inch (dpi) as opposed to 72 dpi). Otherwise, your publication photos will appear pixelised, which will downgrade the publication. Jjpegs, pdf or tif files are preferred. Do not embed pictures in MS Word unless you want to show placement. The best thing to do is provide a proof with pics inserted as well as a separate folder with properly labelled photos. Photo labels must correspond to the labels on the proof. 
  • Tables and graphs – Supply in MS Word or MS Excel in a separate folder, if possible. Do not provide them as scans/picture files unless you want them to appear exactly as they are. It is better to provide the raw data with the tables and graphs so that the layout artist can recreate them according to your colour scheme and font choice. 

Now that you know what to do, go ahead and send your files with confidence. You’ll be amazed at how well layout artists respond when you provide the correct source files!

By Gaylene Jablonkay, Managing Editor

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DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that information provided in this blog post is just a recommendation and is subject to change. We advise you to contact us for professional assistance and advice rather than relying on the content supplied by the author(s) of this blog.