The Ultimate Guide for Professional Printing: A Cheat Sheet!

Got poor results with your last print project?

Well, not to point any fingers, but the problem could be in the file. A lot could go wrong from your monitor to the printer if the file resolution is not the most appropriate one to your print size. Have a look at our previous post on Paper Type vs. Color Desired

Whenever ordering online printing, sending the right file is the key to a great result. We decided to make a cheat sheet for ideal printing results. Take a look at the following tips before sending the art to your next digital and offset printing project:

  1. File Format: check which file formats are accepted by your printer. Sending an unsupported file will lead to delays as they will require for you to resend it. JPEG, PNG and PDF are the most common exchangeable formats. However, other file formats are accepted by most printers. Usually Photoshop, InDesign, Quark and Illustrator will be available, if you don't want changes made to your file export and keep the backup at hand in case your printer requires it.
  2. Image Resolution: not to be confused by image size. Remember that an image might look great on screen, but if the resolution is too low, it won’t look good in print. The standard printing resolution varies from 150dpi to 300dpi. Consult your printer for their requirements. (read about dpi if that sounded like gibberish in these two posts discussing image resolution part 1 and part 2.)
  3. Trim Size: when your files are meant to be cut, as most print advertising does (flyers, business cards, etc.), it is really important to consider the bleed area and trim size. Allow enough blank space between your design and the cutting area so you won’t lose information afterwards.
  4. Color System: some files are created with the RGB color system. This will not work for a printer. Send the file on a CMYK format or Pantone colors if it’s the case. Have in mind that Pantone or spot colors are printed separately and have different costs. If you did not intend to include a spot color in the design, remove it before sending it to print. Also remember that while spot colors have no variation from web to print, CMYK does. So sample your printed color before making large orders.
  5. Print size: research the available printing sizes before sending the file and ordering professional printing. A file can look great on a Keychain, but it might be too small for a custom T-shirt. Take your time to decide what is the exact product you want, if you are not familiar with the terms, you could end up ordering posters when all you wanted were flyers.
  6. Cutting, scoring and folding: once your file has been printed, it is time to shape it up. Professional printers will do it for you but you need to consider your design size and distribution before. Trimming and folding lines need to be very clear so you won't end up with out of place text or incomplete information on any side. While designing a brochure or folded card, define your spaces and text boxes. Leave enough space in between for folding purposes. Require online proof and if possible test print at home just to check information distribution on paper.
Use these tips as a checklist for your next printing project and avoid any final product disappointment. Are there any other steps you take before printing? Or is there any doubt you’d like to ask about? Leave us a comment a let us know!

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