When you have something printed, you expect it to be a quality product. There are a number of pre-press printing mistakes that can be made. By following a few tips for printing, you can ensure that the final product is the quality that will help you, your event, or your business shine.
A few printing solutions can ensure that you go to press with everything that a printing company needs to do your job to the best of its abilities.
Editing Wasn’t Done
There’s nothing worse than getting a poster, flyers, or a direct mail campaign back only to find out that there is a glaring error. Unfortunately, copyediting is one of the most common printing mistakes.
You’ll want to go through every word that’s being printed to ensure that it is not only spelled correctly but also that it’s grammatically correct.
Customers will notice errors – and it can be what causes you to lose trust among your target audience.
Images are Blurry
Any images that are being printed need to have a high enough resolution on the final product. You can’t expect to use a low-resolution image on a banner. The moment it gets blown up, it will be pixelated – and people won’t know what it is that they’re looking at. Blurry images are also the mark of an unprofessional company. Particularly with marketing materials, your images need to be crisp.
All images need to be crisp, too. This includes not only product photos but also company logos and barcodes. If you’re producing a product that will need to be scanned, having a dark-colored barcode that is capable of being scanned is vital.
The Colors are Wrong
The colors you use on your computer may be off dramatically from how they’re printed. A variety of factors go into the color that you see – monitor resolution, lighting, computer program, and more. Your computer will use an RGB color model while digital printers will use the CMYK color model.
Additionally, the printing method you use will alter the colors. Litho printing utilizes pantones while digital printing looks to match the color as closely as possible.
When you’re printing images, skin tones and such are critical. When you’re printing your logo, you have to consider how the wrong color will impact your branding.
Ultimately, it’s better to know the colors are wrong before you go to print. Otherwise, you may end up with printed materials that are completely unusable.
Text Isn’t Legible
Reading your text on the computer screen and reading your text in print is not the same. Often, what you have displayed on your screen may be at 110% or higher. The moment it’s printed in a specific font size, it may be illegible.
Often, the problem is because of the font choice or because of the font size.
Consider the distance in which people are going to be reading the printed item. Banner text may need to be several inches (or feet) high. As for smaller text for brochures, labels, and more, consider your audience. Older demographics should have larger text to ensure they’re able to read the material that you’re providing.
Kerning is All Wrong
Kerning is a problem that often isn’t seen until you print. What looks good on your screen may not look good once it’s on a banner hanging 10’ up above you.
The kern is the spacing between letters or characters. Some fonts will cause the letters to nearly stack on top of one another. It can lead to confusion as to whether a letter is the start or end of a word. It can also make it hard to understand. An “R” and an “N” next to each other can even look like the letter “M” with poor kerning.
There are plenty of ways to fix the typography by choosing another font or by adjusting the spacing manually. However, if you don’t pay attention to kerning from the start, you could end up with an embarrassing final product.
Trim Line is Problematic
There are various things to consider when printing. A “trim line” is common with lithographic printing. If you don’t format properly, you may end up with part of an image or a small section of text in the trim line. What this means is that a valuable part of your print will be missing when it gets in front of people.
You’ll also want to consider a bleed. If you want your images to go all the way to the edge, you’ll need to factor this in when formatting your PDF. Essentially, 1/8 of an inch on the outside of the paper will allow your trim line to compensate for having the image “bleed” over.
Failure to Order a Proof
If you don’t get a proof, you have no idea what the final product is going to look like. Looking at a desktop publishing program on your computer is different than looking at a final proof. You need to look at such things as font, font size, coloring, and overall dimensions.
A professional printing company will provide you with a proof, either physically or digitally. It provides you with the opportunity to review the finished product before it gets printed in mass quantities.
Graphic File was Wrong
The format you send your graphics in is important. While you may work with a JPEG or GIF on your computer and for use on a website, it is not the kind of graphic that works well in print production. Much of this has to do with color files as well as overall compression.
You should be looking to provide a flattened CMYK Tiff file or a Vector file. Depending on the printing process, your printing professionals will tell you which graphic file is preferred.
Dimensions are Off
Many people get confused when it comes to document size and trim size. Ideally, they’ll be the same size. Otherwise, you may think you’re getting an 8×10 print and actually end up with smaller because of the trim accommodating the bleed.
If you’re creating a press kit or some other mailing, you’ll want to ensure that everything is sized for the packaging. You don’t want to wait until thousands have been printed to find out that it won’t fit into the folder or envelope you have.
Get Your Project Off to the Press
Once you’ve followed the various tips for printing, you’re ready to send your project off to press. Choosing a printing company that takes the time to review your project can ensure that you get the quality that you demand. Working with printing professionals allows you to learn about your options, including whether digital or litho printing will work best for your project.