You’ve finished your design and you’re ready to send it off to the printers. You triumphantly click “file” and “save as” but momentarily falter as you scan down the endless list of three letter suffixes. Which one should go after the dot at the end of your document title? You created your amazing document in Word 2007, but your work computers are still using Word 2003, and every time you try to send that to someone they email you back saying they can’t see it. So maybe you should save it as '03 compatible, but what if the printer uses a Mac? So maybe you should export it as a PDF, but every time you do that it ends up looking blurry plus it takes forever to open.
This is a very common conundrum that Thomas Reprographics has dealt with on countless occasions. Fortunately, there is an easy solution. If your document is smaller than 11" x 17", you can save it as PostScript (.ps) file, and if it’s bigger than that, you can save it as an Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) file. The beauty of these formats are that they include all the data, including fonts, graphics, layout, images, etc., into a single file that can be translated by a printer. If a document is not saved in one of these universal formats, the printer you send it to must have the exact same program with the correct version that was used to create it. Most people have Microsoft Word, but not everyone has the most recent version. In fact, even different settings can cause a layout to get jumbled. There are even more issues if your document was created in a more professional design program like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Some designs can have hundreds of layers and elements working together within one document that can only be decoded by Photoshop or Illustrator.
Saving and sending your creations in a standard .ps or .eps format will guarantee that your design will be printed looking exactly the way you made it. For more information or help with saving and printing as a PostScript or Encapsulated PostScript file, check out the following resources:
- From Thomas: Digital Tips
- From Adobe: PostScript printer drivers for Windows and Adobe PostScript 3 Overview
- From Microsoft: Save your publication as a page-independent PostScript file for commercial printing and Why a commercial printer wants a PostScript or PDF file
- From Wikipedia: PostScript