How to Achieve the Perfect Dot

For any publisher that wants to submit camera ready printouts with laser print outs here is some tips to take in consideration before outputting your final copy. With the advent of the affordable high resolution 600 -1200 dpi or better laser printer and its fine screen output, many publishers now feel they can do most anything with screens to enhance their publication's graphic appeal. However, while the screens on your printouts may look fine, chances are that you will end up with an uneven screen in your finished product. Why? If you've got a magnifying loop, check out the sprayed dot your laserprinter is making. Although the dot may seem round to the naked eye, it is clearly not so when viewed under a glass. For a screen to be absolutely even when printed, the dot must be completely round and smooth and of even black density. The litho film used to prepare your art for platemaking will duplicate all defects, and the result won't be seen until a proof is done or the first sheet comes off the press. So what is the solution?

Before outputting your final copies from the laser printer, do the following check: produce a wide black box across your laser paper and check irregularity in the density of the black. If you feel there is room for improvement, make sure the toner is completely full (some machine's output go grey before the refill signal comes on), check your manual for cleaning instructions to clean the charge wire, wipe the rollers (etc), and use the best paper stock possible (laser paper or a good smooth opaque paper) to get as even a black as you possible can before attempting a printout with text and tone values on the same page.

Sometimes it might be necessary to increase your tone value about 5%-10% when using 10%-40% screens to allow for loss in reproduction from your laser prints to film, then plate, then blanket and finally to the printed paper stock. Conversely, high density screens have a tendency to gain value, so sometimes it might be necessary to deduct about 5%-10% from 70%-90% screens.

If you are super critical about your screen work or have multiple screen build-ups, we strongly recommend you print out directly to film. A practical way to save a few dollars if you only have a few pages with screens or half tones would be to bunch these together on a few pages and only submitting these for film output.  You basically copy out these pages from your document and create a new document just for film output.

Marrakech Express can both go from paper printouts (laser printouts), film and direct to plate. The most economical way is still to go from laser output which you have output yourself.

Marrakech Express Inc

Book and publication printing

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