Tips and checklist

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Page layout software
Preferred software
Problems other software
First impressions
We can help you!
Design pitfalls

Tips and Checklist DTP

Page layout software

Page layout programs allow the user to open a template file, import images and text, select from a variety of type fonts and sizes, column justifications, document formatting, and image linking. Page layout programs enable designers to produce professional quality results inexpensively and quickly without the need for outside typesetting or assistance.

To begin working with MJK Disc Productions templates, you must have available one of the three page layout programs listed below:

  • QuarkXpress v4.0 or higher
  • Adobe Indesign v1.0 or higher
  • Adobe Illustrator v8.0 or higher
  • Adobe Pagemaker v6.5 or higher

Which software does MJK Disc Productions prefer?

Adobe Indesign is the best choice for DTP related jobs.
It offers numerous advantages over Quark, among which options that allow for more creativity, saving valuable time and increasing productivity.
Check out to read some objective third parties reviews of the advantages of Indesign over Quark.

QuarkXpress is the next best program preferred for basic page layouts.
The preflight options and error checking are efficient and well supported. Documents print to postscript much more efficiently than Illustrator or Pagemaker. When you import images they are automatically linked to an external file which is what we want. A low resolution version of your image is produced inside the Quark document making the file much quicker to open and edit. Quark features a great variety of plugins and text handling abilities such as importing formatted Word documents.
More details available at

Problems with other software

Avoid using this program for it contains plenty of bugs and disadvantages that will result in loss of valuable time and productivity. Adobe created Indesign for a reason. It’s odd that that Pagemaker is still sold and upgraded, for Indesign will eventually replace Pagemaker.
Still, Pagemaker are accepted if this is the only program available to the client.

This program is no longer supported after numerous complaints with the quality of the end product. Characters disappear and color shifts occur when converting to PDF. We can’t guarantee the outcome of Corel Draw programs, so we do not support Corel Draw files.

Acrobat PDF
Since you would need to make a PDF file using Indesign,Quark, Illustrator or Pagemaker anyway, we prefer to have the original layouts and not PDF-documents. PDFs have a numerous options using compression that can cause low quality printing. It only supports CMYK color and is ‘locked’ so we can not adjust your files if you inadvertently make a layout error.

Illustrator is an Illustration program and not really set up to handle multi-page booklets and bottomcard layouts. For single sheet output like a CD labels however it is an available option. Features we enjoy with Illustrator are the layers palette which allows us to add masks, non-printing comments and guidelines to assist designers with our templates. Also the ability to work with compound paths makes CD face design a breeze.

One of the most common errors with Illustrator is that inexperienced designers PASTE images onto the art board rather than using the “File > Place”-command, or they check “Include external files within document” option during saving making for a hefty bloated Illustrator file that causes all sorts of delays with the computers while ripping your files.
Please anticipate longer preflight times if you submit anything other than Indesign or Quark files -unless your layout is very simple.

TIP: design in Illustrator and move EPS files to Quark and but don’t forget to include your font files for the EPS!

Photoshop is a raster image editing program, not a page layout program. You can use Photoshop but eventually the file must be placed in Quark or Illustrator for proper output to the plate making machines. Think of PSD files (Photoshop) as snap shots and Quark or Illustrator as the photo album that assembles them all together.
Submitting only Photoshop files will result in additional charges.

Photoshop usually contains bitmap elements (dots on a page) but newer versions can contain vector based elements (mathematical values of geometric shapes) these elements enable super high resolution of the object. Sometimes these elements can get flattened during transport (file size is reduced) which then renders all vector based items (including text!) into lower resolution dots (we usually ask for 300 Disc Productions i images). Once this happens changing paragraphs, text alignment and typos is not possible. If you keep text vector based, as you would by typing your text elements in Quark or Illustrator, your result is smooth, high-resolution text and not halftones creating the “jaggies” PROVIDED you send us the font file (small .ttf files that contain the font shape info).
This program should only be used for what it is intended – to create photo images for placement into Indesign or Quark.

What if you have no access to Quark or Illustrator and are ready to go with only Photoshop files?
MJK Disc Productions can accept Photoshop files for about EUR 100 additional to your original quote. We will mount into our templates and advise you of any adjustments or modifications needed prior to production.

Additional charges for adjustments and layouts over 8 pages.

The very first impression is the artwork.

There are two main methods of getting your design onto the CD face and paper parts:

  • For experienced computer graphics designers
    You are (or know someone who is) an experienced computer graphics designer and can organize Indesign, Quark, Illustrator files using MJK Disc Productions approved templates.
    If no errors found we will then produce pre-press proofs for you to review and approve before your job is run. Please review your Proofing Options for this service and then read all about the technical side at our Computer Graphics info center.

MJK Disc Productions will be pleased to instruct you how to get professional high resolution images, deep colors and crisp text into your packaging. Call our graphics department now to discuss your next project at +32 (0)16 89 37 35.

  • No graphic design experience?
    MJK Disc Productions will help with the design & layout of your artwork.
    Send us your images, Word Doc with text, fonts, and mockup and let MJK Disc Production’s professional graphics team assemble your ideas in record time. Email PDF proofs available to ensure your complete satisfaction.
    MJK Disc Productions will take your pictures and text to create CD labels, booklets, mailers, software boxes…almost anything!

Call +32 (0)16 89 37 35, use our online contact form or send an e-mail to to find out how easy we can make it for you.

Need help with the preparation of you artwork?

Why not let MJK Disc Productions do everything for you?
Call +32 (0)16 89 37 35, use our online contact form or send an e-mail to to find out how easy we can make it for you.

Common design pitfalls

Every file submitted for production will include a full preflight (analysis) in an attempt to identify issues or ‘show stoppers’ that will prevent your project from continuing. It is much easier for all involved if you are aware up front that minor adjustments may be made to your files to ensure smooth transfers to the printing plates.It is critical you carefully check for changes made to your designs during proofing stages.

Common mistakes found with client supplied electronic printing material:


  • Client did not use our templates
  • Client did not read the tutorial you are reading now
  • Templates were exported as EPS files. Keep all templates in their native file types
  • Images were pasted or dragged into the layout. Always use File | Place or Import
  • Placed images resolution too low or too high (always use 300 DPI)
  • In CMYK mode you colored something 400% density. (Too much ink)
  • Images saved in RGB instead of CMYK
  • Images delivered in wrong file format (JPG, GIF,…). Use TIFF, BMP, PSD.
  • B&W images saved as RGB or CMYK
  • Corrupted or missing Post Script printer fonts
  • Spelling mistakes and typos (e.g. Order of tracks, names of band members)
  • Placing text in a 300 DPI Photoshop image. Publishing programs like Indesign or Quark should be used for text placement.
  • Fonts and other unused items from design experimentation never deleted.

CD Label Specific:

  • Client did not read the customer supplied film specifications guide
  • Label film not sized to specifications
  • Line screen not respected (120 max)
  • Gradients used (very hard to reproduce accurately)
  • Gradient fills for label too detailed (need slow transitions)
  • Image or information inside the non-printable area of the disc label
  • Image outside printable area
  • PMS colors not separating properly. (Do test separations at your end first)
  • Florescent colors specified (don’t use them)
  • Hexachrome values used (do not use a number with a dash: e.g.. PMS156-7)

Paper Parts specific (booklets tray cards etc.)

  • Image files not supplied
  • Tray card spine text upside down
  • Bar code placed on nonwhite background
  • Pantone colors specified in CMYK output (paper parts) without prior warning.
  • No mockup supplied for booklets and CD label
  • Text too close to cut marks. Allow for enough gutter margin)
  • No bleed around booklet panels


  • Fonts are missing or incomplete
  • Do not stylize fonts (make Bold and italic) in Quark; i.e. don’t use the ‘bold’ command to make regular Helvetica appear bold. Use the correct Helvetica Bold font instead. All fonts need to be shipped with your print files, including the bold or italic font versions.
  • Remember the fonts embedded in EPS files. Often a customer will send the fonts used to create headlines and text, but forget to include fonts that are contained in EPS graphics that are imported into the page layout document.
  • As an alternative, before creating an EPS, you can convert the text to paths. Most Illustration programs, especially Illustrator and FreeHand, have the ability to change text into vector elements so you no longer need to include the font files. It becomes self contained. Do backup your files before you convert!
    (select your text > Type > Create Outlines)
  • Avoid nesting or layering of fonts. Placing type in a graphic, then placing it in another graphic, and finally, imprinting it into the page layout program could make it hard for the imagesetter to find the font. Try to keep graphic file construction simple.
  • Avoid obscure font manufacturers or bargain basement fonts. All fonts are not created equal. Strange fonts could cause problems with high-resolution output. Some of these types of fonts are only made for 300 DPI laser printers.

Desktop Publishing

Designing your artwork and laying it out is an important part of CD- and DVD productions.
Take some time to study our tips and use our checklist to avoid problems with your artwork for print.

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