Paper Matters Blog
Back to Print Basics: Part One

5 Print Basics Tips to Remember

With more time dedicated to design destined for electronic consumption in both formal education and work application, there is room for training on how to best design for print.  Whether you’re new to designing for print or a seasoned veteran, remembering these basic tips can save you time and money. Chris Hageman, an industry veteran andOperations/Sales Manager for JMaxx  shared a few thoughts on how designers can effectively save time and ensure the print quality of their work is optimized:

  1. The resolution of the files that you create needs to be higher for print. When the file that is being created will be printed it needs to be in “high resolution”. A jpeg file needs a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (Dots per inch) to be “high res”. If the file does not meet the minimum, the print quality will suffer in terms of sharpness.  It is similar to sending a picture from your smartphone. When you send the small size options the image quality isn’t as distinct.
  2. While RGB is the standard when designing color for most electronic design, websites, smartphones, and most electronic devices, design for print requires CMYK for colors. Your great looking artwork can look fantastic on screen with RGB. But, send the same file to your printer and you won’t be satisfied. The best color reproduction will be achieved when your printer has a file with CMYK.
  3. Make sure to account for bleeds when designing for print. If your color extends to the edge of the page, this means your file will need the color to extend beyond the finished size. This allows the printer room to complete the finishing work, like trimming. It’s not possible to print color to the very edges of the sheet.
  4. Link all aspects of your design into your high res PDF. Type fonts, color images, and artwork need to be linked. It is very helpful that when clients save their final file they include crop marks that way the printer knows the exact size of the finished piece.
  5. When working with folded materials, make sure you realize that the panel sizes will not all be exactly the same. The first fold panel will purposely be about 1/16” short to allow the finish folded edges to meet. If the first fold is the same as the final fold, the final fold will come up short. It will look sloppy. So, it’s necessary to take this into account when designing the files so that you don’t run your copy or images past the first fold edge.

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