PDF Output and More for Notation Programs

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It’s one thing to do a score on screen, and even print it out on your local printer. But what if you want to do more? What if you want the score printed on 11×17 paper? Or parts printed on 11×17 landscape, and on buff 60-lb. card stock? Or how about exporting a file as a graphic to be inserted into a document or massaged graphically in Photoshop or InDesign?

I posed these questions to Notion Music’s Brian Meisner who put me on to the road of discovery.

Neither Finale, Notion nor Sibelius have PDF output, nor do any sequencing/digital audio programs with notation capability. So let’s start here first.

On the Mac – you have built-in PDF creation using Preview. Preview can open 25 different file formats and automatically create a PDF. Preview can then convert and export to BMP, JP2, JPEG, PDF, PICT, PNG, SGI, TGA, and TIFF. Click here for more details on Preview.

On Finale, you export as a TIFF or EPS file on either Mac or PC. Notion has no graphic output, while Sibelius has 20 choices that are primarily for Adobe, Microsoft, and OpenSource (StarOffice) programs.

Note – For more on Macs and PDFs see this article by Two Pilots Software. For Print Spooling from other programs on the Mac to graphics output see Spool Pilot from Two Pilots Software.

On the PC – Unlike the Mac, Windows XP does not have PDF making capabilities. So you need an outside program to work with. Two are CutePDF and SnagIt from TechSmith.

CutePDF is a free program recommended by the folks at Notion Music. Since CutePDF is a free download, just install it following the instructions. Then in Notion, select it in the Printer page along with whether you want portrait or landscape:

I tested CutePDF on both Sibelius 5 and Notion, and got more than acceptable results.

But as a publisher, I wanted to go the next step. What if someone wanted to have the full graphic export feature with Notion and Finale as you do with Sibelius? How do you do that?

Since I use SnagIt from TechSmith as our prime screen capture program for publishing work on the PC, I decided to test SnagIt as a printer, too. If you look at the earlier screenshot, you’ll see SnagIt 8 listed as an option. Your size options are A4, letter, legal and executive.

SnagIt then spools it and brings it up as a graphic.

Printing Your Documents
For 8.5 x 11 and legal, you can use a home or office laser, just make sure it can handle 60-lb. card stock paper weight for printing out parts.

However, what if you want to print out a score, or rather than taping together multiple letter-sized pages, print two pages on a landscape 11 x 17? How do you do that?

The answer is a Xerox DocuTech which can handle 11 x 17. Otherwise, your next choice is spending roughly $2,000 and up to get your own HP LaserJet that prints 11 x 17.

According to Phillip Whipp, corporate account manager for OfficeMax Impress, you can print up to 11 x 17 at any OfficeMax/Impress with a Xerox DocuTech. I checked this out for myself, and I discovered that Impress has everything you need for music prep for full orchestra which includes buff 60-lb. card stock and masking tape. If there’s an orchestra in the local city, any Impress has the potential for being the poor composers “JoAnne Kane’s Music Service” but with oversight. You cannot assume that an OfficeMax or even FedEx Kinko’s is going to have a music notation specialist in every store, nor someone who reads music. So either you or a competent assistant needs to go in and do oversight while it’s being printed. The 60-lb. buff card stock is a standard item, but you should call ahead to make sure they have enough.

Here’s where file format comes in handy – the DocuTech prints off a PDF! And EPS files, too. In fact, the DocuTech handles a number of different file formats. Unfortunately, neither Xerox nor Impress has any of this information posted on their respective websites. [http://www.officemax.com/max/solutions/services/CopyMax/CopyMax.jsp]

Kinko’s has a very sharp option. For music preparation, it has to be a PDF output, but with that, you can print direct from the computer to your local Kinko’s. Their card stock is buff, 65 lb.

Price for either Impress or Kinko’s ranges from 21 cents to 31 cents per copy – 11 x 17, black and white, printing one side. [http://fedex.com/us/officeprint/onlineprint/news.html?CMP=ILC-PRN038]

You have to hunt the Kinko’s site to find out about printing from your desktop to their printer (you can even pay online). But I had to call the local Kinko’s store to verify paper weight and that they could handle 11 x 17.

By the way, Xerox DocuTech is available all the world over. So wherever you live, there’s a local solution for music prep.

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