If you’re looking to provide “print-ready” files that we can send straight to the press, this post is for you!
Preparing files correctly for print is not as easy as it sounds. Many customers send us files that they believe can be printed without any adjustments but once we get them, our creative team has to make many tweaks. Those adjustments result in added charges, edited files and timely delays. In some cases, we even have to go back to the client and ask for the native files.
Here are some tips that will keep you free from unforeseen changes and fees.
TOP 3 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PREPARING FILES FOR PRINT:
BLEED IS NEEDED
Let’s say you want an 8.5 x 11 size flyer that has elements (color blocks, images, etc.) that go to the edge of the paper. In order for us to print without a white border, we need a file that is slightly larger than the finished size, which we will cut down to size after printing. This way, the color will “bleed” off the page seamlessly. The printer needs this extra area to account for slight image shift during printing and paper shift during trimming.
Industry standard bleed is .125” on each side. So that 8.5 x 11 document you want printed needs to be sent as an 8.75 x 11.25 document.
COLOR NEEDS TO BE CMYK
Surprisingly, color is a tricky thing when it comes to print. Unfortunately, it is impossible for a printer to exactly match colors seen on screen. Your computer monitor displays colors differently than the way paper does. Because a monitor emits colors as light in the form of RGB (red, blue, green), it is able to produce a much brighter spectrum than paper, which displays color based on the absorption and reflection of light in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).
So, if you are working on your computer, designing a piece in RGB, the colors will appear much more saturated and rich than when you print them out. For this reason and to avoid any disappointment, you should always be working in CMYK when designing your piece. This way, your screen will better portray what will be printed and you won’t be expecting colors that cannot be replicated in print.
HIGH RESOULTION IS NEEDED
Often times a client will use images and graphics that they scanned in themselves or pulled from the internet (EEEEK!). For instance, if you are designing a postcard and you copy and paste your logo from your website, that logo will not print clearly. Even though it may look fine on your screen (it is built for screen resolution), it won’t be high quality enough to meet print resolution standards. It will print out blurry and pixelated.
To give you some perspective, anything you use in web design needs to have a resolution of 75dpi, but print is more than triple that at 300dpi.
The best way to avoid this is to use vector graphics (for instance, if you have an .eps or .ai file of your logo) or use stock images which are print quality.