PostScript Printers vs. Non-PostScript Printers

April 6, 2011

Many users are confused about PostScript (PS) printers and why they can be useful for a designer. There are features of CorelDRAW that will only output on PostScript printers. The one most often desired by users is the ability to control the halftone screen when printing. I have users ask me quite often why they can’t access certain features of the Print dialog box and the answer is always that they are printing to a non-PostScript printer. If you think this is a flaw in CorelDRAW, it is not. Regardless of the software, you need PostScript to get some features.

First, let’s determine if you are printing to a PS printer. With a design open in CorelDRAW, select File | Print and choose the printer. Look at the tabs along the top of the dialog box. Is there one labeled PostScript? If you see it, you are printing to a PostScript printer. Otherwise, you are not. It really is as simple as that. Some of you will insist your printer is a PostScript printer. It may be, but you either did not install a PostScript driver or you didn’t select it in the Print dialog box.

For those who don’t have a PostScript printer, you have three choices. The first is to live without having halftone control. Some users don’t need this feature. The second choice is to buy a new printer that has PostScript. Obviously that can be an expensive solution. For those who need it, it can be a good investment. Ever since I entered the graphics business, I’ve been very picky about getting PostScript printers for this very reason. The third choice is to get a RIP (raster image processor) that can take the PostScript data and output it on a non-PostScript printer. Some RIPs are very expensive and may be be included (or an added option) in the price of an output device. This is common on wide-format printers and digital presses. You can also use a poor man’s RIP such as the combination of GhostScript and GSView. I detail that process in the upcoming CorelDRAW X5 Unleashed Advanced Topics book. It isn’t as elegant as other RIPs or having PostScript in the printer, but it is free.

Hopefully this clears up the confusion so that everyone can get the output they desire.

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5 Comments

  1. Jeff Harrison

    Another factor I’ve run into: Some users have a “Postscript Capable” printer… but that just means that Postscript ability is an optional add-on for that printer. I recall seeing the slots for that: it appears the add-on that likely comes in the form of a circuit board (resembling RAM).

    Reply
  2. K en G

    Question:
    HP markets some printers with “Postscript 3 emulation”. What does that mean… exactly?

    Reply
  3. Foster D. Coburn III

    I am guessing here, but I’d say that HP has created their own iteration of PostScript to save on licensing the real thing. In many cases, the emulators work fine. Heck, sometimes they work better. But they aren’t perfect either.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I have a HP laser Jet Pro 400 with the postscript driver loaded and showing in my corel print box, I am able to change the halftone dot size on the screen and apply it, but the print still comes out without the dot size changed. Please help me anyone, I desperately need to be able to change the halftone dot size for screen printing and litho printing.

    Reply
  5. Foster D. Coburn III

    I don’t know every single printer, but most likely your printer forces its own size on the output and there is nothing you can do about it. The printer manufacturers believe this is helpful to users.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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