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The prepress stage , also known as prepress , is a sub-process in industrial printing and has replaced the previous term reproduction technology . This is a summary of all the processes prior to printing , such as scanning work , data processing, retouching and image editing , layout design , imposition , computer-to-film (CTF) and today, depending on the printing process in offset printing the plate imaging and computer to plate ( CTP) and in gravure printing, the electromechanical or laser engraving of the printing cylinder . The goal is to create a printing form for the corresponding printing process.

The job of prepress is to merge texts, images and graphics into print templates and to prepare them for printing. Data that come from advertising agencies , publishers or directly from customers are converted into printable data on the computer for the printing process. The end product used to be mostly a film or a PostScript file, today (as of 2012) it is mostly a PDF file.

Print job

As a rule, before the order is placed, it is decided which printing process should be used for printing. Offset printing receives the largest order volume, followed by gravure printing , flexographic printing and the other printing processes. The printing should have the essential information from the customer prior to placing the order, including the number of copies , the print substrate (paper, cardboard or plastic), the number and type of printing ink , the further processing , and optionally a packing list.

Imposition of the print data

Under imposition refers to the placing of the individual pages of the print file to the print sheet (front side ( first printing ) or back ( reverse printing )). Special imposition software such as ApogeeX ( AGFA ), Prinect Signa Station ( HEIDELBERG ), Preps ( Kodak ), GRAPHIAware Nicola (GRAPHIA ) is used to calculate the page structure and the placement (so that the correct sequence continues after folding and cutting) ) or Imposition Publisher (Farrukh Systems).

After the imposition, further elements are placed on the panel stand:

  • Minispots: measuring elements with raster and full tone fields for color and process control
  • Color control strips : For monitoring the uniform color density
  • Plate control wedge: For the creation of printing plates with stable printing


Common programs in prepress in the area of desktop publishing , i.e. layout and page assembly, include QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign . In addition to these proprietary programs, the free program Scribus is also used, and the free typesetting system LaTeX is often used for scientific texts with high demands on typographic quality. Other graphics software is e.g. B. Adobe Photoshop , which is used in the field of image processing as well as the free GIMP , as well as Illustrator , FreeHand , CorelDraw , RagTime or the free Inkscape , which are mainly used to create drawings.

Database Publishing

One of the most modern approaches in this area is data-supported publishing ( database publishing ), in which complex documents can be generated fully automatically. This is made possible by rule sets in which layout rules are explicitly mapped. 100 percent automation is already possible today if the data to be published is pre-structured. Systems such as DocScape or Corel Ventura enable such a procedure and in some cases lead to considerable savings in prepress.

Professions in prepress

The previously numerous professions in prepress, most of which no longer exist, have been grouped together in Germany since 2007 under the name of media designer for digital and print . There are three disciplines, namely consulting and planning , conception and visualization , and design and technology . A three-year training period generally applies. In Switzerland , the job title "Polygraf" is used. There are only two disciplines there, media production and media design.

In Austria there is still the occupation of prepress technician, which is separated from media technician. The dual vocational training takes place in the apprenticeship of the same name and lasts 3½ years.


  • Hubert Blana: The production . KG Saur Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-598-20067-6 .
  • Helmut Kipphan (Hrsg.): Handbook of Print Media: Technologies and Production Processes . Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-540-66941-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: prepress  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Prepress - imposition of the print data. Retrieved February 11, 2019 .
  2. Training ordinance of the Austrian Ministry of Economic Affairs ( Memento of February 20, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 63 kB) valid since September 1, 2005
  3. Professional and industry information from the Austrian Chamber of Commerce