Who Need The Blues?

Many publishers, in their RFQ, ask for a full set of blue lines. As we don't make blues as a matter of course, we charge for them. Many kinds of  publications do not really need blue lines, and time and money can be saved without them.

A publication whose text is being printed in 1 color, and does not have many halftones or line art , will not benefit from blues. Likewise if it is a file you have submitted and laser proofs are enclosed, we will check with them when outputting your file. As for page sequence, as long as your publication has numbered pages, then we are responsible for keeping those pages in order. Introductory pages are usually also paginated in Roman numerals. And for the typical book containing a few unnumbered introductory pages--title, copyright, contents, etc--these should always be labeled in sequence by the publisher directly on the printouts.

To make sure we keep everything in order, the  prepress department check your pages against your proofs matching your total page count as they strip or output your file.. Then for a second check, as soon as the first sheet of any run rolls off the press, it is folded down to its signature size and checked over by the pressman and production supervisor together for correct pagination as well as other elements vital to a good print job.

What about margins? Aren't blue lines good for checking that? Well, margins are pretty standard elements. Most camera ready copy we receive for 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 pages have the crop marks on the 8.5 x 11 printouts. For an 8.5 x 11 publication, the margins on the laser paper, which also measure 8.5 x 11, are the same for the book or magazine to be printed. Occasionally, if a publisher has purposely made some unusual margin for a special look for their publication, they may ask us for a blue line of the first signature only to check that our strippers have kept to the proper specs.

So, when are full blues a good idea? When there are 2 or more colors  to make sure no element has been accidentally dropped, and that the different color elements are in proper registration. Similarly, if you submit a job with loose pictures and we have to scan or shoot these. Also when we have to strip in several halftones or pieces of line art, blue lines will show whether an element was left out or put in a wrong position.

What a publisher should try not to use blues for is a final proofing of the publication. To make changes at this point not only inordinately delays production, but costs considerably more per correction because the new art has to be expressed, processed and redone.

Blue lines run the gamut from unnecessary to indispensable. Like any other tool, they work best when used for the right job.

Marrakech Express Inc

Book and publication printing

Copyright 1994 Marrakech Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 17, 2001