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I'm writing my thesis using Latex and nearing its completion I'm beginning to worry about the quality of the hardcopy. I'm curious about what should be taken into consideration when preparing a document so that the printed document is of such a good quality as the PDF produced by Latex.

From what I've read in some answers on this site, I have the following impressions:

  • I should ask the printing shop for the binding correction for my page size and take it into account in my page layout.

  • I should ask the printing shop for their available printing sizes and produce cropping marks if necessary.

  • The colors in my document should be defined using CMYK instead of RGB (though I'm not certain on this), which makes me wonder if I should convert my current colors from RGB to CMYK.

Are there any canonical things that are important when preparing a hardcopy? Of course I refer to things that can be done in the Latex source to improve the quality of the printed ouput (or to minimize the problems that may arise).

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    The most important consideration: know the typographical requirements for submitting your dissertation. Some universities (esp. in North America, I think) have rather strict rules about the layout of the page, often written as if everyone still used a typewriter to write with. I'd be very surprised if you were able to have page sizes different from A4 or letterpaper, e.g. If you have considerable freedom, the feature rich classes (e.g., memoir and KOMA-Script) offer a lot of practical advice on how to layout a page for printing. – jon Jul 29 '13 at 20:46
  • @jon I'm lucky to say that my university is not very strict on these requirements. In fact I'm already using KOMA-Script (which I got to know here) and I plan to print my dissertation in B5. As a matter of fact, reading about the BCOR parameter in the manual of KOMA made me wonder about other printing considerations. – Alberto Miranda Jul 29 '13 at 20:51
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In most cases, you don't need to take care of binding correction, printer marks or imposition. If the printer need that, they usually ask. About the pdf files: A good way of taking care of the issues that affect pdfs directly, in the printing industry, is using the PDF/X1-a standard. You would also need all your images to use the CMYK color model, at least. If you have a lot of images and care a lot about color, you should care about color profiling. I can recommend you to read this discussion, and this one -- basically, you would need to load a color profile file that depends on the machine your printer uses, however, you can get generic good results using FOGRA39 if you are in europe or asia, or any Coated SWOP profile if you are anywhere in the Americas). Ask you print provider if they have any color profile preferences; most used icc profiles can be found here. Also, if you are printing not in offset CMYK plates, but in digital color printing (RISO, Laser, etc.), other considerations may apply. The best you can do, in any case, is ask your printer directly first.

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    Then it is true that CMYK should be preferred. I was going to ask about RGB -> CMYK conversion but it seems that the links you provide discuss it. Great addition! – Alberto Miranda Jul 30 '13 at 5:19
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    I forgot to also mention this entry in the ConTeXt wiki that explains PDF/X generation in ConTeXt. – El Andi Jul 30 '13 at 5:21
  • cool thanks! If you have any other links that you think are interesting about this, feel free to post them. – Alberto Miranda Jul 30 '13 at 5:24
  • Well, this RGB and CMYK thing is kind of a big issue in the printing industry. A good and relatively easy read in this entry on wikipedia, and maybe this video can also be of help. If I find something else, I will post it. – El Andi Jul 30 '13 at 5:32
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I would strongly suggest using the crop package and printing the whole thing out in a 1:1 scale on larger paper. You can go through the whole document with a ruler and a pencil to check margins, ratios, positions, etc.

Unless they are using some old-fashioned equipment, you will not need to add crop marks to the output PDF.

As you suggest, it will look much nicer if you can calculate a reasonable gutter width based on the page count, paper weight and binding type.

Depending on the printer, they may have a pre-press script or online check software that will find obvious errors or at least indicate possible problems with the PDF.

In my experience, the cover is often more difficult to format than the interior. Once you get the page formatting down, LaTeX does the heavy lifting for the inside of the book. But, you may have to use other software to layout the cover properly.

  • What do you mean with a 1:1 scale on a larger paper? In my particular case, I'm producing B5 pages with KOMA taking care of the appropriate layout (minus the gutter ATM), and I've experimented a bit with printing in A4 with crop marks, using the crop package you suggest. Is that what you mean? – Alberto Miranda Jul 30 '13 at 5:22
  • Yes, that is exactly what I mean. You can even cut out a few pages and staple them together to give yourself an impression of what the final output will look like. – Brendan Howell Jul 30 '13 at 11:17

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