Preparing Mac Files for the PC (or Doin' The Illustrator Two-Step)
Illustrator format is the lingua franca of graphics exchange, both Mac-to-Mac and PC-to-Mac. Here are some tips that will help you prepare your Mac Illustrator files for best results in mainstream PC presentation programs like PowerPoint and Freelance. There are two main problems to overcome: Fonts and Colors.
- You can't assume that the PC user has the same fonts as you.
- You can't give the PC user your fonts - Mac fonts don't work on a PC.
Two possible solutions:
- Check with the PC user who'll be using your file. If they have the same fonts from the same company, you can pretty much ignore the problem. Even if the font names are slightly different (they generally are) the PC program will either map the Mac font names to PC fonts or will give the user some way to do a global substitution.
If they don't have the fonts, or if their version of the font comes from a different manufacturer, or if you're not sure which fonts you used, the safe bet is to convert all of the text to outlines. To do this:
- Open the file in Illustrator
- Select All
- Choose Create Outlines from the Type menu.
Except in the most recent versions, Illustrator works in Pantone or CMYK colors. These are the standard for the printing industry, but most presentation programs work strictly in RGB. Some CMYK colors convert nicely to RGB, others look horrible.
Like it or not, your carefully chosen colors will get converted to RGB. You can trust that the conversion will work (let me know if you do … I have some very nice bridges for sale) or you do the conversion yourself and make certain it's done right. Assuming you want to do the right thing, here's how you convert to RGB-friendly colors:
- Convert all Pantone colors to CMYK.
- Convert the CMYK values to CMY - for reasons too long-winded to go into here, it's the black, or K, component of CMYK that causes problems when converting to RGB. Conversions are much more predictable when you go from CMY to RGB. Illustrator won't do this for you, but it's not hard. For each color you've used in your drawing:
- Note the black (K) value in the Custom Colors dialog box, then change it to zero. Add the K value you removed back into each of the C, M and Y values.
- For example, 50C 25M 0Y 25K -- remove the 25K, add it to each of the other values to get 75C 50M 25Y 0K.
- Do you see the problem that's waiting in the wings? Consider a color like 75C 25M 0Y 50K … 75C plus 50K makes 125C, and that's a no-no. You can't have more than 100% of any color. There's no simple solution to this one; you can pick a different (but similar) color that uses values that will convert properly, or you can do some testing at the PC end to fine-tune the colors later. In any case, when you run into colors like this, you'll at least know that they need special attention.
Once you're done converting fonts and colors, re-save the file under a new name. Don't simply resave the file under the original name. Once the text is converted to outlines, you can't edit it, and the colors will no longer be appropriate for other uses.
In the Save dialog box, choose Illustrator 3 format (this may show up as Illustrator 3.02 or similar) and give the file a PC-style name … 8 characters, then a period, then "AI". Spaces, commas or more than the one period are verboten. In other words, XXXXXXXX.AI
Doing the Illustrator Two-Step … taking care of fonts and colors … won't make all the potential problems disappear, but it will prevent the majority of Mac-to-PC misfires.