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Digital Prepress vs. Traditional Prepress

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Design and Prepress for Desktop Publishing
Ravenshoe Group - Prepress Area

Prepress Area - Where all of the typesetting magic happens.

Ravenshoe Group CC BY 2.0 license via Flickr
While design, document preparation, prepress, and printing can be viewed as separate areas, they are all intertwined. Prepress, using traditional methods or digital prepress, encompasses the entire process of taking a document from an idea to a final product.

Prepress Affects Design and Printing
Strictly speaking, prepress begins after the design decisions are made and ends when the document hits the press, but in practice the graphic design process must take into account the traditional or digital prepress process and limitations and the printing methods in order to be a successful design.

Digital Prepress Requires Fewer People
For many of us who might never have worked in publishing prior to the advent of desktop publishing, digital prepress may be the only type of prepress we know or understand. But before PageMaker and laser printers there was a whole other industry (and a lot more people) involved in getting a book or a brochure published.

To help understand the differences and similarities in the two processes, it is helpful to see a comparison of conventional or traditional and digital prepress tasks including the design process. You may immediately notice how many different jobs the designer takes on now that desktop publishing software has replaced (or substantially changed) the job of the typesetter, paste-up professional, stripper, and others.

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