Guidelines for Author-Prepared Art

With the proliferation of advanced graphics tools -- desktop publishing, illustration, and image manipulation software -- authors are increasingly skillful at providing sophisticated art and text manuscripts. The common misconception resulting among authors is that their desktop published manuscript is equivalent to a professionally composed document suitably prepared for imaging. The two are not the same. Here are some of the basic requirements that may help avoid problems we've had making the transition from author-supplied files to files that can be used by the typesetter and printer.


  1. Submit individual files prepared as grayscale tiff's for each screen capture.

    • RGB bitmap screen captures may be the only option available -- if so, conversion to grayscale tiff can be made by the production house. If the production house charges for this service then the costs will be charged back to the authors.

    • If several screen captures are grouped together to form a collage of images with arrows and labels, mock-ups of what is intended are needed as manuscript, but files and hard copy of individual screen captures are still required. The final layout must be re-composed within the constraints of the book's design and trim size using the individual components. Depending on the complexity and number of these displays that appear in the book, the production house might consider this "art rendering," which means the costs could be charged back to the author.

    • IMPORTANT TIP: Send screen captures as captured from the original application, not images captured and then embedded into your word processing document for layout. The results will be unusable. Always save your intermediate components. They are most likely the files that will be needed by the production house.

  2. Use the highest resolution monitor with the most possible colors that is available for making the screen capture, because the quality of the screen capture is a direct function of the hardware's capability.

    • It's very likely that the lay user will have access to systems with no greater than 800 x 600 resolution -- by comparison, a production house may use 1280 x 1024, 24-bit color as a minimum. Expect quality to be compromised slightly because of this limitation. Concerns about resolution should be discussed with the editor, but, generally, authors should not expect the production house to be able to recreate screen captures. Often the captures are of the author's own materials as created in their software. The production house will not have access to the originating programs and data so therefore cannot recreate the pieces.

  3. Capture screens at 100% of their screen size. Do not resize.

  4. For a large art program, samples (both electronic files and hard copy) should be submitted to Production before the author prepares the entire batch. If different types of pieces are being used, then authors should provide at least one of each type. The samples could go to the compositor, printer, or art studio for evaluation. If just a few pieces are to be used there is no need for this step -- they will be evaluated in the normal course of production and remade, if necessary.

  5. A hard copy printout must accompany the electronic file as part of the art manuscript.


Created in Excel, Microsoft Word, Power Point, Word Perfect, Etc.

These programs do not produce files in a format acceptable for print production. If authors are preparing art using one of these programs or something similar, their materials may be able to be used in either of two ways: (1) Sometimes it is possible to salvage the art from the supplied word processing document or spreadsheet files through a series of conversions with the intention of creating a placeable .eps file; (2) In other cases, it is more appropriate to scan the supplied hard copy (assuming the quality is good).

There are, however, no guarantees that the files created using these types of programs can actually be used. Furthermore, there is a lot of work involved in salvaging the graphics, and sometimes the resulting art's quality is passable but not good. So a lot of time and money are spent to get just marginal quality illustrations. The same is true with the scanning. Per the contract, if files cannot be used, the author must pay for art preparation.

These programs are great for creating rough sketches, but they rarely fulfill the author's contract requirements for providing camera-ready art or fully formatted electronic files. To have the greatest chance of providing usable camera-ready copy or files, follow the guidelines given below for preparing line illustrations when using one of these more popular word processing or spreadsheet programs to create an art program.

Line Illustrations
To be able to use files without further conversion, they have to be supplied as .eps files. It's quite possible authors are familiar with this terminology but equally likely they aren't. Software illustration programs that are commonly used for producing graphics in .eps format are: Adobe Illustrator, MacroMedia Freehand, and Corel Draw. Types of programs that should not be used are PowerPoint, WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, and Excel because proper .eps files cannot be produced from them. Here are the guidelines authors should follow when creating illustrations for publication:

  1. Do not use TrueType fonts; only true Adobe postscript fonts are allowable. If you do not have access to true Adobe fonts, then use Arial or Times New Roman. These True Type fonts will still need to be replaced with Adobe fonts (by the production house), but the conversion will be less complicated because Arial and Times New Roman map closely in size to Helvetica and Times Roman, their Adobe counterparts.
  2. Set labels in 9 or 10 point Helvetica (8 pt. type is the minimum and should be used only when absolutely necessary).
  3. Do not have labels in black type overprinting a dark screen.
  4. Place labels inside or outside the art but not overlapping its edges.
  5. All labels should follow a consistent style in terms of size, capitalization, punctuation, and scale.
  6. Set line weights to .5 to 1 point. Never use anything less than .5 point rules; hairlines will not print. Greater line weights can be used for distinction.
  7. The book will ultimately be printed in black only, so art must not contain colors.
  8. Use screens sparingly. If the supplied files arrive ready to use, screens are fine (in fact, professional art houses use screens all the time in rendered art). But if art is supplied as camera-ready copy intended to be scanned, the screened backgrounds cause moir?patterns, and detail is lost or muddied. Screens of less than 10% can be lost in printing and large areas of 100% black should be avoided.
  9. Render art at a size similar to the size it will be used in the book. In most cases, the dimensions for a single chart would typically be no wider than 24-28 picas (4-4.5") and no taller than about 14-18 picas (2.25-2.75").
  10. Two-dimensional representations of charts should be used, not the crude 3-D charts automatically created by charting programs.
  11. Supplied art must be in its final, proofread form. If the supplied files require any conversion or if camera-ready copy is supplied for scanning, edits cannot necessarily be made. In the event changes must be implemented, they can be quite time consuming and, hence, very costly, and will be charged to the author.
  12. Submit samples before preparing a large art program.

Bitmap A grid of dots (pixels); in graphics, the image is made up of a fixed number of dots. Each pixel helps to define the image in terms of color (shades of gray or different colors); screen captures are bitmapped graphics.
.eps (Encapsulated PostScript) A variant of the PostScript language that supports graphics exchange between programs on the Macintosh and Windows platforms and contains instructions for printing graphics on a PostScript output device.
Grayscale The mode for presenting graphics as a black and white image using shades of gray.
Imaging A stage in book production in which typeset book files are transferred to the final, high resolution printing medium (film or direct-to-plate).
Moiré An undesirable interference to the normal dot alignment used for printing that is caused by repeating patterns in the original (such as screened backgrounds).
Resolution A term used in many contexts -- printer resolution, display resolution, image resolution -- to define the number of dots or pixels displayed per unit of length. DPI (dots per inch) define your printer and monitor resolution; PPI (pixels per inch) image resolution.
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) The file format most commonly used to store grayscale or color bitmapped images.
PostScript The language by which a computer communicates with a printer to describe how a printed page should look (developed by Adobe and is the printing standard for page description languages).
RGB (RED-GREEN-BLUE) A color model used for describing colors in bitmapped images using red, green, and blue primary color components. RGB is the color model associated with devices like computer monitors that emit light. (By comparison, CMYK is the another color model and is used for commercial printing. Cyan, magenta, yellow are its primaries, plus Black.)
True Type Fonts typically used with non-postscript output devices. Adobe Type 1 fonts are the industry standard for imaging to PostScript output devices (see also, PostScript). Use of True Type fonts in final book files is prohibited; if present, they must be substituted to true Adobe PostScript fonts.

These guidelines were prepared by Omegatype Typography, Inc., Champaign, IL, for use by Allyn & Bacon.


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