Creating a print-ready layout demands keen attention to detail and a working knowledge of the printing process. Of course, nobody means to submit a problematic file, but beginners and seasoned designers alike can make mistakes. Unfortunately, even simple errors can cause delays and add unnecessary expenses to a project. Hopefully this information can help you avoid the most common printing issues and allow you to create problem-free artwork.
Missing or Incorrectly Placed Crop Marks
Crop marks are sets of thin, short lines placed on all four corners of a document to show where the paper should be cut after printing. When your printer receives the artwork, it is usually printed onto paper that is larger than the final desired size. Then, they can use the crop marks as a guide to trim the paper down to its final size. Properly-placed crop marks are essential for ensuring the finished document is trimmed to the right dimensions.
Improper Bleed Set-Up
A bleed simply means that the ink goes all the way to the edge of the paper, or there is to be no unprinted area left at the border. If any part of your artwork extends to the side, you will need to set up the file to accommodate the bleed. You can do this by increasing the design by at least 1/8″ beyond the crop marks. These extended bleed areas will then be cut off when your document is trimmed along the crop marks.
Document Sized Improperly
Submitting a file that is 8.5” x 11” and wanting it printed at 10” x 14” or 6” x 9” will result in unnecessary stress. In most cases, the file will need to be reworked entirely to a different size, which can add a great deal of time and cost to a project. To avoid delays and extra fees, always create your file to match the size of the finished piece.
Colours set to RGB instead of CMYK
The colours you see on your computer monitor are RGB colours, as are the colours produced by digital cameras, scanners and some desktop printers. RGB colours are a mixture of red, green and blue. Commercial printers create coloured documents using CMYK, which are layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So, when creating a piece for CMYK printing, be sure to have your file in CMYK mode. Otherwise, files submitted as RGB will need to first be converted to CMYK before printing, which will likely result in colours you weren’t expecting.
Poor Image Resolution
For printed documents, images should be at least 300 dpi for precise clarity. Web images may appear sharp on your computer screen but can appear blurry and jagged when printed. Use only high-resolution pictures if you plan on printing your document.
Not Enough Contrast Between Text and Background
Make sure your text has sufficient contrast against its background. Also, avoid using small or thin font styles, especially if it is white text against a coloured background as it will be difficult to read when printed.
Not Allowing for Roomy Margins
It is important not to skimp on the size of your margins. Even though narrow margins will allow you to fit more content on a page, the end product will not look good. Also, many printed pieces end up trimmed during production, so it is crucial to keep important information away from the trim lines. Otherwise, part of the information could get trimmed off, or end up so close to the edge that it ruins the aesthetics of your document.
Spelling and Grammar Issues
Make sure to proofread your file thoroughly for spelling and grammar errors before sending it to your printer. It helps to have several other people scan the document to confirm it is print ready. Don’t risk having to reprint something because it wasn’t thoroughly reviewed before.
If you are creating a document for print and have questions, give High Style Performance a call. Or, if you already know your specs, call us for a quote. We look forward to helping you with your printing needs!