There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you send your file to print. If you want the process to be smooth, hassle-free and produce the best results, make sure you ask yourself these important questions:
1. Has the proper bleed been included?
Bleed is the artwork that is beyond the boundaries of your actual document after it is sliced and printed. Because the slicing of your document will never be perfectly accurate, it is necessary to give at least 0.125” of bleed for print jobs such as business cards, brochures, and posters. Large format prints may require even more bleed, so be sure to ask a professional before proceeding.
2. Is there small text on a rich black background?
If you are printing on a black background with a text that is “knocked out” of that background, be sure to watch out for the inclusion of yellow, magenta and cyan. These colours will cause blurring, even with digital prints. Use white text for 100% black backgrounds for the best results. If the background is extraordinarily rich, a small amount of coloured ink will help achieve a better outcome.
3. Are the images in CMYK format?
There may be no difference to the naked eye when it comes to the RGB and CMYK formats, but there is a huge difference when it comes to printing. Although most desktop publishing programs will perform this conversion automatically, you should still double check the process in order to avoid a costly mistake. Additionally, all desktop publishing programs are not equal when it comes to converting images. Some of the cheaper ones will still cause problems when printing.
4. Has the document been carefully proofread?
Although this may be the most obvious step, it is often the most overlooked. Spelling mistakes are the easiest to fix; however, you have to take the time to catch them. Be sure that you double check your work with the printer if he is dictating your design to you. Also, do not rely on spell checkers in word processing programs. They do not catch correctly spelled words that you have simply used in the wrong place, such as using “your” when you meant to use “you’re” or Canadian spelling versus American spelling.
5. Have the fonts been converted to outlines?
Certain design programs such as InDesign and Illustrator do not automatically convert fonts into outlines. Problems arise when a certain font that is used within a program is not within the format of the PDF conversion that you attempt. Be sure to keep a backup copy with the unconverted text just in case you need to make any changes! You’ll thank yourself later.
6. What resolution are the images being sent to print?
An image must be at least 300 dpi in order to print properly and it’s recommended that they be in the 300-400 dpi range for the best results. A higher resolution than this can actually be troublesome, so try to maintain the standard without going over it.
7. Are vector text and logos being used rather than raster?
In most cases, vector text is the preferred type for print jobs. If a font over 16 pt is being used, certain raster texts may be okay to print. However, when in doubt, always use vector text and print proofs beforehand just to be safe!
8. Are the black and white images saved as colour images?
This may seem counterintuitive, but black and white images usually contain some measure of other colours in them as well. They should be saved as colour images to maintain the various shades of grey that are hidden from the naked eye but not the printer, which will interpret the missing information quite unconvincingly.
9. What type of print file should you send?
The .gif and .png formats are made for the computer screen specifically; they are definitely not recommended for print. Convert them to .tiff or high quality .jpeg images before sending them to print.
10. Were the layers locked before flattening the file?
Don’t run the risk of accidentally moving an element out of place even slightly before you flatten the image. It happens more often than you’d think! It’s easier to be safe than sorry.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know by commenting below!
Brittany Giles is the Social Media Specialist at The Printing House.