Following publication of our design tips in the last post, it made sense to put together our top tips for successful printing too. After all, what use is great design and communication if the printing lets it down.
Although the ultimate process of putting ink onto paper is down to the skills of your chosen printer, there are a whole host of things you can do, before handover, to give your job the very best chance of looking great once printed.
1. First, read our ‘Top 10 Tips for Great Design’ post
… from earlier this month.
Why? It’s jam-packed full of tips to make the content, message and look of your piece absolutely as good as it can be. Here’s the link.
2. Use the right software
Why? Because professional printing works best with professional design and artwork software. Some of the higher end settings and functions are simply not available with ‘desk-top publishing’ software, while ‘Office’ applications like Word for Windows are simply not designed for use with high-end printing. If in doubt, use the services of a professional graphic designer — or indeed a printer who has them in-house, like Firstpoint Print.
3. Check your images are saved correctly
Resolution needs to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch, which is effectively the same thing as pixels per inch or ppi).
Related: If images include ‘rasterised’ text (text saved as an image rather than as editable text), also make sure that the resolution is 300dpi or more, at the final size.
Why? This will ensure that the images and rasterised text are sharp and legible. Anything less than 300dpi will make them look soft, fuzzy or, even worse, pixels will show on the final printing. Better still for text, use ‘real’ text or ‘vectorised’ text instead of rasterised text — see below …
4. Check your font settings
Before handing over artwork files, make sure any ‘live’ fonts are either 100% embedded or converted to vectors (‘outlined’ as it’s known in professional artwork packages like Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator).
Why? Failure to do so may result in unintended font substitutions or even missing or unexpected characters appearing in the final printing.
5. Check your image modes
Coloured images like photographs need to be in CMYK mode, not RGB or Indexed Colour.
Why? Leaving them in RGB may result in unexpected colours in the final printing (a mistake that is particularly disastrous when using litho printing — digital printing is a little more forgiving although don’t rely on that — it’s easy to change the mode).
6. Check your bleed settings
Check you’ve added 3mm of bleed to all images or graphics that extend to the paper’s edge.
Why? Failing to do so might result in an unintended white margin on the final printing. Read our artwork preparation guide for further details.
7. Know when to use spot colours
Why? Because some colours can only be achieved using a special pre-mixed ink. These include particularly saturated colours, including fluorescents, and also metallics, none of which are possible to achieve using digital printing or CMYK/process printing. In contrast, spot colour printing will achieve them precisely. Even some bright oranges, quite a few blues and several other seemingly standard colours can only be approximated unless printed as proper spot colour inks. If you’re unsure whether to use a spot colour, simply ask your printer.
8. Check and re-check your artwork
Make sure your artwork has been thoroughly checked and then re-checked. OK, we mentioned that in those design tips, but it’s worth repeating! Then carefully check a printed proof from your printer before running the full quantity.
Why? Once it’s printed, it’s too late to correct it without a costly reprint.
9. Save your artwork correctly
Why? So your printed result looks as you expect it to. Read our guide to preparing professional artwork for further details.
10. Don’t go for the cheapest option
11). Use a great printer
Bonus tip! Finally, it almost goes without saying that, for a great printed result, choose a printer that has an excellent reputation for high quality output and genuinely good customer service. Every printer will say they’re the best but genuine customer testimonials are really what you need to look out for. For example, Firstpoint Print has a whole page of testimonials that you can read here and those are just a small portion of the lovely comments we receive from our customers on a regular basis.
Firstpoint Print has branches in Clerkenwell, London Bridge and Victoria. Each branch offers digital printing, litho printing, large format printing, graphic design and many other print-related services. Contact your nearest branch for more details or click the links below for more information: