How to Prepare a Fax

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Preparing a high quality fax for transmission can be a challenging and difficult experience for many business users. This chapter will show you how to prepare a fax without becoming an expert in telecommunications and Imaging by leading you step by step through the process. Also, it will help you overcome some of the challenges and we will give you several tricks to avoid mistake. This generic description can be applied to all of the Impact Fax Products and can also be utilized with the Black Ice Software development tools.

How to prepare the fax:

Faxes can be prepared in a variety of applications such as Microsoft Office, COREL Draw or any other publishing package. The single most important thing to remember is that every application uses the default printer driver to compute the resolution of the document. This has a significant impact and is the cause of most of the confusion. For example, if you prepare your document using an HP OfficeJet printer as your default printer, by the time you fax the document it may look totally different then you see it on your screen. The reason is that the HP printer is 600x600DPI, but faxing is 204x198 DPI and the document is distorted in the process of conversion from high resolution to low resolution.

Basic steps to follow to prepare a fax indifferent of what application are you using.

  • 1.Set your Impact Fax printer driver as the default printer driver. Click on Start, Setting, Printers. Click on the Impact Fax printer with the right mouse button and select “Set as Default Printer".
  • 2.Select your preferred application to prepare the fax such as Excel, MS Word, Corel, or Power Point.
  • 3.Prepare your fax piece.
  • 4.Print the document to the Impact Fax printer driver.
  • 5.The Impact Fax printer driver will activate your Impact Fax Broadcast, Impact Fax Server Client or impact ColorFax.
  • 6.Depending on the Impact Product, you are ready to proceed to fax.
  • 7.Restore your original printer as your default printer by following step 1.

Some basic terms:

The most important terms are “Fine fax" and “Standard fax". Another important and confusing term is DPI. What is DPI? DPI stands for Dot Per Inch or pixels per inch on the paper or on the screen. This unfortunately, is a very important term.

Fine resolution fax is 204x196 DPI or 1728x2200 pixels.
Standard resolution fax is 204 x 98 DPI. 1728x1100 pixels.

Fax transmission is limited to these two resolutions or basic sizes and that is why some faxes look really lousy. The fax standard allows higher resolution and different paper sizes; however 99% of the fax devices do not support any resolutions other than Fine and Standard. To learn more about fax standards, read the ITU T.30 specification.

What is the difference between Fine and Standard resolution? Faxes prepared in Fine mode are better quality and take longer to transmit than faxes prepared in Standard mode.

Standard resolution was designed to reduce fax transmission time at the expense of fax quality. At the time when telephone calls were expensive and the major factor in the cost of faxing, Standard faxing was common. Now with the low calling rates, the time it takes to send a fax is not relevant. As a result, the emphasis has shifted to fax quality.

What is the Printer Driver and why do I need a printer driver when I want to fax and not print?

Printer Drivers are the easiest and simplest way to convert a document to fax, as we will show it later.

Common Mistakes:

A common practice is that when the fax is prepared it is saved as a bitmap or TIFF file to be reused later. Once again there are several problems with this approach. When you prepare the document for faxing, you used the default printer, which was probably some high-resolution printer. The second mistake is the paper size. Most people believe that fax paper size is the same as Letter in the US or A4 for the rest of the world. That is incorrect! Both Letter and A4 are very close to fax paper size but not exactly the same. A4 is 210x279 mm and Letter is 8 1/2x11 inch, but it also must be 204x198 DPI, which results in 1686x2291 for A4 and 1734x2156 pixels for Letter paper size. The fax paper size is 1728x2200 pixels. When you import in one of these incorrect Bitmap or TIFF files into Impact Fax products, the imported document must be stretched to 1728x2200 or shrunk to be able to fax it. This stretching or shrinking can cause visible distortion.

To make faxing even more complicated Bitmaps do not have DPI information. Therefore, when you import into an Impact Fax product the application will assign DPI information to the image, but again it will cause visible distortion.

Font selections also lead to common mistakes. When a document is prepared for high-resolution printers, one can easily use small bold fonts and the text is easily readable. On a fax, small fonts can cause bleeding and merging of neighboring fonts due to the low resolution of the fax transmission.