Printing is an area of marketing where it is essential to get it right the first time. Otherwise, a business could easily miss a critical deadline or spend double what the job should cost. Below is a list of seven things to check prior to sending print files to the printing company.
1. Bleeds. If your artwork extends to the sides of your page and outside of the printing bounding box or crop area, you’ll want to include a bleed as a margin of error. It will ensure that your ink still goes to the edge of the page after it is trimmed. The standard bleed size is 1/8” of extra image. The most common error with files and templates is incorrect bleeds, so be sure to double check this before sending your file to print. Text and prominent images typically should be 1/4″ away from the edge of the trim to be safe. Also, confirm with the print shop what the parameters should be.
2. Full colour. If the job is in full colour ensure the files are submitted in CMYK format. Other colour systems such as RGB do not provide an accurate print representation and are primarily used for web-based projects.
3. Spot colours. Specify any spot colours and choose them from a matching system. Files need to be set up with appropriate colours to reproduce correctly.
4. Rich black. Large areas of black should usually be set for rich as opposed to regular black. (Rich black is where solid black is printed over one or more of the other CMYK colors.) Always be aware of each percentage of colour. Monitors tend to display black areas all the same, however when printed rich black will intensify. For legibility keep the type at 100 percent black, particularly for font sizes under 28pt.
5. Fonts. Ensure that all fonts are packaged and sent with the file or embedded. Many shops work directly with PDFs, however some require source files from programs such as Quark or InDesign with the images. Also, ensure that your fonts match the printer’s because they can differ.
6. Ensure images are at least 300dpi to produce the best quality results. While 72dpi can look acceptable on a monitor it does not produce quality images on printed materials. Also ensure that all images are linked properly to avoid confusion, delay or disappointment.
7. Perform a full check for spelling and grammar throughout the entire piece. Do not rely solely upon a computer spell checker and have several sets of eyes review the files before they are sent. Printing companies do not guarantee that all errors can be caught.
Aside from the extra time and expense, the distribution of incorrectly printed materials can cause confusion not to mention embarrassment. There is only one chance to make a first impression! Ensuring that the above checklist is followed will ensure that your project will arrive at the printer in the best format to maximize output quality.