My favorite printer is BYU's Print and Mail. They have been consistently kind, helpful and professional to me, and their prices are better than anyone else I've seen. Our family history committee has used their services for 5 different projects. As a result I've had the opportunity to work with Carol Holland over a number of years. She's given me loads of advice and help. That's why I'm so excited about their new video of Carol giving some basic printing advice. Click here to watch it. Her presentation applies to any printer, not just the one at Brigham Young University, although they do accept long distance electronic submissions. As I watched, I understood the whys behind what we have discovered works the best.
Some hints that I thought helpful are listed below.
1 - For a pleasing effect don't use more than about 3 different fonts. And make sure that you have the rights to any fonts you use so they will come across in the PDF file you create as your finished product.
2 - Microsoft Word can be used to lay out your book, but keep the files as small as you can to avoid having the illustrations jump around. We have used Quark Xpress and InDesign where it is not so important because these more expensive programs do not embed the illustrations into the file until the final pdf. Carol makes the point that it is good to use a program that you feel comfortable with.
3 - For printing, use 300 dpi for photos or 600 dpi for detailed fine line work. Carol recommends png though I use tif.
4 - If you think a photo may be used as a full page, such as a family group, scan as an 8x10 photo so you won't lose quality if you need to make it large.
5 - Try out a photo in gray scale if you think that's how you may use it. Changing from color to gray scale may not look the best if it lacks contrast.
6 - Proofread, proofread, proofread. Try reading the text back to front or out loud. Have more than one person read it. Be sure to look at your pdf file. You will need to okay a final proof from the printer before you order the books. Try just a few pages if you have questions.
7 - Don't turn in your application file for printing (Word, etc. where you have put the book together). It will not be the same on another computer or printer.
8 - Keep your application file for possible corrections but export as a printer file (pdf) to take to the printer. A printer file is much more stable. The printer can usually put together small files to make a longer book.
If you are planning to publish your book, don't wait until you are ready to print. Watch Carol's video now and save yourself some grief as you prepare your files.