It may be easier to prevent problems in InDesign when you build a file from scratch. But when you inherit an existing file, it pays to be paranoid. Does the file look perfect? Maybe it is, but assume it isn’t. Markzware’s FlightCheck catches a lot of things, but InDesign offers some helpful forensic tools that can aid you while you’re in the working files, and, in fact, may make it easier to find some things than using FlightCheck. And your own eyes, coupled with your knowledge of standard operations in your workgroup can be the best tools of all.
- Run spell check (Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling), but realize that it won’t check outlined type or placed artwork. If it’s wrong, fix it. When in doubt (e.g., for proper names, city names, technical terms, or slang), ask someone familiar with the client and job.
- Use InDesign’s Preview mode (View > Screen Mode) to catch non-printing objects or objects that are too close to trim (or the image area limit): you can also use the tool that toggles between Normal and Preview mode (it’s the last tool at the bottom of the toolbox). But there’s an even easier way: make sure you’re not in a text frame, then just press the “W” key on your keyboard to go into Preview mode. Look for disappearing items. It’s helpful to hit the W several times to toggle between Normal and Preview mode — this makes it easier to spot the problem objects. How would something become non-printing? Ordinarily, you’d have to use the Attributes panel (Window > Attributes) and select the “Nonprinting” check box. But in some older versions of InDesign, random EPS files placed in a QuarkXPress page converted to InDesign would be set to non-printing as a result of an error in conversion. That’s been fixed since, oh, InDesign CS or CS2, but there’s an outside chance you might inherit a converted file in which nobody ever noticed that things were falling off the page. Some designers use the non-printing attribute to make notes and markups visible onscreen, without sullying the output of comps. A wrong click somewhere could render the wrong object invisible at print time.
- Use Overprint Preview (View > Overprint Preview) to check for overprinting colors, and also watch for white text or objects to disappear. Make it even easier to concentrate on the screen by using the keyboard shortcut: Command-Option-Shift-Y (PC: Control-Alt-Shift-Y). Toggle Overprint Preview on and off to make problem objects easier to spot. [White overprint = “disappear.” It’s sort of a Zen koan thing: “white” (or InDesign’s “Paper”) really means “no ink prints here.” Set “no ink” to overprint, and it sort of creates a space-time anomaly.]
- Use Separations Preview to check for both overprinting objects and incorrect spot colors (InDesign turns on High Resolution Display and Overprint Preview when you activate Separations Preview). It’s helpful to turn inks on and off to see where they’re used. And it beats the heck out of printing separated lasers: you save trees, you don’t have to wait for that guy’s 64-page file to print, and — big plus! —you don’t have to get up out of your chair and walk to the printer.
- Check for unnamed colors: in Swatches panel menu, choose Add Unnamed Colors, and then check the color space of those new swatches. This is a good way to find renegade colors that were created in the Color panel and applied manually. While such colors print even if they’re not official Swatches, this can help you find RGB colors, which may not print quite as they appear on screen.
- Check the contents of the Links panel against the file content. If there are 7 links, but only 6 apparent images, somebody’s hiding. Select the link name in the panel, and click the Go To Link button on the bottom of the Links panel (second icon from left on bottom row).
- Use the Info panel to check the resolution of placed PSD, TIFF, and JPEG images. Unfortunately, it can’t dig into placed EPS files or PDFs.