Trapping Problem from PDF made from InDesign - please help

Jackie Frant's picture

I have been doing a western series for more than 10 years. The title type is placed on the graphic into photoshop. We never had any problems. A few months ago (you may remember my crying about the printer demanding the files be done in InDesign rather than Quark) the files were going out as requested by their printer.

The title type in the last two month print jobs doesn't seem to be trapping - there is a white halo around the type. The printer says it's my file preparation - but outside of the fact the pdf is made in InDesign to their specs -- and not Quark) -- there is no other change. It is still front cover in photoshop. I think the printer is not trapping properly on press... the old catch-22.

Can anyone help and shed some light on this?

Thank you in advance,


Paul Cutler's picture

You can't generate overprinting from a PS file to my knowledge (although multiply is pretty close). Maybe that is what they are complaining about. But the only reason they would complain is if they couldn't hold register on their plates. It's on them Jackie no doubt, but that still doesn't solve the problem.

Could you get the same effect by placing the title in ID? Then you could set it to overprint. Of course if the title was white that would be a HUGE mistake… -:)

Is the title a spot color by any chance?

I also don't quite understand that the printer gets to tell you what program to generate a PDF with. It really shouldn't matter. Are they in love with CID encoded fonts or something?


agostini's picture

Hi jackie
usually its the printers job to get the trapping sorted. which means
you just export as a pdf from indesign or you print to postscript and
use distiller to do the conversion to pdf.
The printer should have the ability to trap your pdf file with special
trapping software (heidelberg's supertrap).
If your printer is not able to provide this service, well change printer.
or to get around it set the trapping yourself in indesign.

indesign, under window, output, trap presets

double click the default settings
tick trap images internally, click ok.

Print to postscript as usual. But under output change the setting
from CMYK to in-rip separation.
Also under output change trapping to application built-in

now hit print and distill the ps file with pdf-x3 settings.

voila...a trapped file.

the standard trap setting in indesign will trap indesign
text and elements. indesign text and elements to
placed image files. It won't trap illustrator files internally
or to indesign text and elements.

hope this helps (or better makes sense)

AGL's picture

The printer should be able to trap pdfs. I think for me that there maybe some problem printing the indesign file. Some printers don't have a top notch prepress systems and, keeping up with the technology curve demands a lot of upgrading...
The pdf-x3 is a is a good option. But if you consider that there maybe a problem with the printer's workflow, you could try making a PDF-X1a which is a pdf level 1.2 for Acrobat 5, and it should work even with legacy systems. Print from indesign to a ps file and distill as a PDF-X1a. That may help.
As to apply trap in the pdf the supertrap application is great, question is, the printer has that?
Applying in-rip separations just work if the printers workflow has a top notch system.

I am inclined to think the PDF is the best option (X1a).

agostini's picture

hmmm agl
the rip doesnt need to do anything as the trapping is already done in the pdf
(it's not just setting the trap flag it actually traps the pdf)
It will also work with pdf x1a.

I still think changing printer would be easiest.

Paul Cutler's picture

The days when designers needed to know how to trap should theoretically be gone. It's the printer Jackie, if you have no choice there are options here but ultimately you should either change printers or have a dialogue with them as to what exactly the problem is. Probably the former, not the latter…

For newsprint sometimes I will place a small 100k stroke on a white object printing on a rich black background just in case - that's about as far as I take it.

A printer who is doing their job will trap your files accurately for their press and the media they are printing on.

Best of Luck!


Jackie Frant's picture

Thank you all for your comments and just getting back to me. Sometimes I feel I stand alone when I am about to say, "it's the printer's fault." We have gone through an electronic age where everyone is busy pointing the finger - and no one is taking responsibility for their job. In fact, many don't even know what their job is anymore. And when it comes to spending money -- we are all trying to save a few dollars where ever we can.

Thank you again.

AGL's picture

Any RIP will trap any file (eps, pdf, ps, etc), and it will trap all the vector. Generally when you rip a composite file (eps or ps) trapping doesn't apply: The rip will make the decision for you in a pre-setted system; some others you can actually edit the trap.

Basically it is like this: vector will be trapped by the rip; Images are not trapped, unless you want it to be trapped (psd does that).

Jackie T, the important thing here is realizing the limitations some systems have and, you as a designer should consider such problems with files you produce. The more complex your artwork is, the higher possibilities for problems.

When working with pdfs, pick the PDF-X1a - trapped or untrapped. Ah, Quarkxpress delivers excellent eps, ps files. The trick is distilling them to your needs: If the printer says "files has to be in cs3":

RUN f-a-s-t!


Jackie Frant's picture

Thank you all for trying to help. I have seen the files and found that the company that does the printing does not rip the files for trapping. They have left it up to my client to do. Strange how the industry has changed so much. I guess all the professionals have retired.

The problem was that the photoshop document had display/logo type in it and needed a Trap of 2. (It only was at 1) That appears to remove the halo.

If you'd like, when we get the proof back, I'll gladly update you.

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