I’m going to share the story of a catalog with you in hopes that the mistakes made in this catalog can be mistakes you avoid in the future. It is a real catalog that a recent attendee to our CorelDRAW Unleashed Training Boot Camp has been asked to update. This attendee is a new CorelDRAW user and there is no doubt that the updated catalog will technically be far superior than the last one. Prior to attending the Boot Camp, I was provided with a copy of the catalog file and a series of questions the attendee wanted to have answered. Just to clarify, while it was called a catalog by the attendee, I would call it a detailed program for an upcoming conference.
Let’s start with the most obvious problem I saw initially. The catalog is 166 pages. I feel very strongly that CorelDRAW is not the right tool for creating “books” of this length. I wrote in detail about it last year in a post titled Don’t Create Massive CorelDRAW Files! One of the attendee’s first questions was how to create the table of contents. In short, there is no feature in CorelDRAW for creating a table of contents. It will have to be created manually. In this case, I should say it will have to be updated manually.
As I looked through the individual pages, there were numerous OLE Objects included. In one case there was one sentence of text “embedded” was Microsoft Word. Another had a bitmap embedded from Windows Paint. Another had a PDF embedded from Acrobat Acrobat. I didn’t count, but there had to be at least 50 OLE Objects. Nothing wrong with bringing in data from other software, just use Paste Special to do it and choose a format so the data is inside CorelDRAW and not an embedded version of another program’s file.
Throughout the file were quite a few bitmaps. Nothing wrong with that. Even though the catalog will be printed in grayscale, there are numerous bitmaps that are RGB. The contents of the bitmaps is either grayscale or monochrome so there is no good reason for them to be RGB. By converting them to grayscale or monochrome, the size of the bitmap will go way down and thus will make the CDR file (and resulting PDF files) smaller.
Some of the ads, were obviously scanned business cards. Instead of cropping to just the business card, the bitmap inside the file was the size of the full scanner bed. The pixels outside of the card were white so it didn’t add much size to the file, but it was also incredibly unnecessary. Combine that with some of these files being in RGB and there were numerous mistakes in one object.
There were some pages that were mostly text and the text had been converted to curves. So that led to hundreds, possibly thousands of objects on a single page. Of course that also means the text can’t be edited. The only way to really fix this is to re-create the text and delete the “converted to objects” version. Other pages had what looked to be mostly text (with too many fonts used) that were a bitmap. Again, these pages need to be re-created as text (with fewer fonts).
Those were the worst technical problems with the file. When they are corrected, the CorelDRAW file will be much smaller and the PDF file sent to the printer and posted on the Web site will also be much smaller. It will also make future updates much easier to make.
Other than the mention of too many fonts earlier, we haven’t really discussed the look of the book. The class decided it looked like something out of the 40s. Many of the ads looked like they hadn’t been updated in many years. Part of the problem here will be convincing the advertisers (very small businesses) to go for an updated ad.
I consider the number of pages in the file to be an issue and I encouraged the attendee to break the project into multiple files with no more than 20 pages. I also think some of the changes being made to the file will allow the same information to be presented in fewer pages. Not a huge number, but it may be possible to have 6-10 fewer pages. That will save on printing costs.
As much as this file was an absolute nightmare (not created by the attendee), it was fun to tear it apart and discuss the flaws. The attendee was thrilled to have a roadmap to improve the file. It got me to thinking that I might like to do more of these on a regular basis. If I were to offer a service to review files for technical flaws, would you be interested in using the service? Would you be interested in more write-ups like this? Leave a comment on the blog and give me your thoughts.