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Printers general discussion FAQ

Post Script Errors

Getting an Offending Command? by neo3
Posted: 22 May 03

Note: The key to troubleshooting PostScript errors is determining the frequency of the error. If the error only occurs when printing one file or from one application, it is probably not an issue with the printer or driver. In this case, it is recommended to contact the application vendor for assistance in resolving the PostScript error.

General Information
While the PostScript error message you receive from the error handler probably gives good information on the source of the problem, there may be additional troubleshooting that needs to be done. Typically, PostScript errors occur on one of many different levels. The source of the error can be in:

the system itself
a particular application
a particular file
a single element in a file

Before troubleshooting the error in any great detail, it is often worth trying to print again, to see if the problem is repeatable.

Also, verify that you are not trying to print an EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) file. EPS files are meant only for importing into other documents, not for printing, and will not work if sent to a printer.

Note: PostScript errors can be unpredictable; any of the troubleshooting suggestions below might solve any of the errors. What may look like a problematic file may in fact be caused by poor software setting, especially for applications like QuarkXPress or PageMaker.

The information given below is a general approach, not a fail safe process. Trial and error tempered with experience is the best guide to solving these problems.

System Level Errors
If you receive a PostScript error while printing, try printing a file from a different application. If you still receive the same error, it is likely that your problem is being caused somewhere in the system itself. These types of problems include:

damaged fonts
system files
printer drivers
insufficient hard disk space
network problems
hardware problems

Communication issues between the computer and the printer often show up here.

Troubleshooting strategies:

Verify the correct driver is in use and configured properly.

Use an alternate driver (for example: Adobe's PostScript driver versus Microsoft's driver, for PC's).

Is there an A/B switch box in use between the computer and the printer? Remove it, and use a direct parallel connection.

Try different cables, transceivers, and network ports (such as on a hub) and ensure all are properly installed.

Try printing from another computer to validate the computer port.

Try printing to another PostScript printer to validate the printer port.

Ensure there is plenty of hard disk space available for the job. For example: You can free additional disk space by turning off Background Printing on a Macintosh.

Application Level Errors
If PostScript errors are occurring from only a single application but from several different files, it is likely the application is causing the error.

Troubleshooting strategies:

Verify that all of the recommended application settings are configured properly. Especially the correct installation and use of the PDF or PPD in QuarkXPress, PageMaker, Freehand, and Illustrator. This is a very common problem, even among experienced users of these applications.

Verify the correct driver is in use and configured properly.

Use an alternate driver (For Example: Adobe's PostScript driver versus Microsoft's driver for PC's).

Reinstall the application from the original software installation disks.

File Level Errors
If the error only occurs with a specific file, the file is likely causing the error. You can begin troubleshooting the file by using the same print settings as those of a file that does not cause an error.

Troubleshooting strategies:

Copy the contents of the file into a new file, save the new file using the Save As command, then see if the error occurs with the new file. If the error does not occur, the original file was damaged. If the error still occurs, the file probably contains one or more specific damaged elements.

Element Level Errors
After ruling out a damaged file as the cause, a damaged, or incorrectly written element or font, or group of elements or fonts are likely causing the error. If the error occurs across several pages within the file, look for common items on those pages as possible sources of the error.

Troubleshooting strategies:
Make a copy of the file, and then try printing groups of several pages at a time. If a group causes an error, print one page at a time from that group, until the specific problematic page(s) is identified.

Isolate the elements causing the problem by removing all the elements from the page, then add them back one at a time. Try printing after each addition, to identify the problematic element.

If an element causing the problem is text or an element you have created in the application, recreate the element. For text elements, try using a different font (For Example: use Palatino instead of Times New Roman). If the file does not cause the error when you use a different font, the original font may be corrupt.

If the problematic element is an imported graphic, try reimporting the graphic. If the error still occurs, open the graphic in the application it was created in, resave it, and make sure it prints correctly from that application. Reimport the graphic. If the imported graphic still causes the error, try resaving it in a different format, exporting it from a different application, or simplifying it so that it requires less memory.

Finally, try simplifying the file and then see if it will print. Reduce the total amount of imported graphics, fonts that must be downloaded, number of text effects (for example: skewing, rotation), delete unneeded elements, create paths using fewer points, or reimport bitmap images that have been rescanned at lower resolutions. Graphic formats such as EPS are updated periodically, so older applications can use older graphic standards that newer PostScript interpreters may not understand.

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