This note explains how to use a Macintosh to prepare PostScript files for RIPping on a DocuTech, a filmsetter, or other high-performance PostScript output devices. (You can interpolate from this document to figure out how to accomplish the same task using a Windows machine, but be aware that Windows operating system generated notoriously poor PostScript code. Be sure to use Adobe's printer drivers, not those provided by Microsoft.)
First, obtain the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file for the intended device. The print shop that owns the device may be able to provide you with this file. Alternatively, you can access Adobe's archive of PPD files, or access the web site of the manufacturer of the device. You will have to know the model number of the device. Place the PPD file into the Printer Descriptions subfolder of Extensions of your System Folder.
Use the Chooser to select a LaserWriter version 8 driver. I use either Apple's LaserWriter driver, version 8.5.1, or Adobe's "AdobePS" driver, version 8.5.1. (If you're interested in saving to PDF, or in virtual printers, consult this note at MacFixIt. If you wish to install both the Adobe and Apple drivers, install the Apple driver last, or read this note at MacFixIt.) [Apple LaserWriter 8.6 is now available, as a component of Mac OS 8.5.]
If you are using the desktop printing feature, choose a PostScript printer, access Printing -> Change Setup ..., and select the appropriate PPD. If you are not using desktop printing, you must have a PostScript printer online: Open the Chooser, select a PostScript printer, choose Setup ..., then select the appropriate PPD.
From you application, choose Page Setup and ensure that the printing settings - particularly the page size settings - are appropriate for your job. If you are using a sophisticated application - Illustrator, FrameMaker, PageMaker, or Quark XPress, page size is specified in two places: in the Page Setup dialog, and also in the document itself, through a different dialog that depends upon the particular application. Double-check this: If you get it wrong, then your job is liable to be printed with the incorrect cropping or positioning.
I recommend that you disable (deselect) all of the Image & Text PostScript Options - Substitute Fonts, Smooth Text, Smooth Graphics, Precision Bitmap Alignment, and Unlimited Downloadable Fonts.
When your document is ready, choose Print. Access Print to File, to create a PostScript job file. (Encapsulated PostScript, EPS, is inappropriate for ripping.) Chose to include All fonts not in PPD. Many imagesetters, including some early DocuTechs, are PostScript level 1 devices: Choose level 2 or level 3 only if you are quite certain that the device offers the corresponding capability. You can use either ASCII or binary format; binary leads to more compact files, but can be more difficult to transport through e-mail. Choose double-sided printing; ensure that you choose the correct binding edge. Use an extension of ".ps". It will be convenient for your printer if you use a base name that is your last name, or the name of your company. (The filename handout.ps may be unambiguous to you, but you can imagine that a large printer may receive twenty files daily having this name! On the other hand, the printer is likely to receive at most one file daily having the name Poynton.ps.)
For any document that you are reproducing in quantity larger than five or ten pieces, you should give your document a title, a date, and an attribution. (Failure to provide a clear title and author identification of a document is one of the Ten common mistakes in the typesetting of technical documents.) If you're going to the trouble to print your document well, then I recommend that you give your document a title page. If the document comprises more than about 40 pages, arrange with your printer to bind the document with Wire-O or plastic spiral binding, with your cover page on the front printed on card stock material, and a blank piece of card stock material as a back cover. Provide your cover in its own PostScript file, separate from your main document.
In addition to the PostScript job file, I generally provide an Acrobat PDF file to be used in case of PostScript failures. Not all commercial printing shops are familiar with PDF at the moment, though Adobe is moving rapidly to establish PDF as the format of choice for electronic submission of print jobs. You might find that the print shop is happier with Acrobat PDF than with PostScript. Take care, though, that any critical fonts are embedded in your PDF - otherwise, they will be synthesized at the printers, and may not appear quite as you want.
Detail specific to the Xerox DocuTech is contained in the companion document, Preparing to RIP on a DocuTech.
Submit the file according to the companion document, Submitting PostScript files to a commercial printer.
Charles - Introduction to RIPping