Professional printing is similar to preparing for an important presentation, and is a necessity if you have needs that cannot be fulfilled with your desktop printer. Commercial printing is needed when you want to print in large quantities, use binding, want access to different finishing options, need trimming, or would like to print with special ink or on special paper. Commercial printing is also utilized when you need hundreds or thousands of printed copies, as it’s the most efficient and economical way to print.
Before you take that print file to a commercial printer, make sure you read our tips for professional print. It’s guaranteed to save you time, money, and the frustration!
There are a few options that you can use when you are preparing a design file for print, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing tool that is excellent for creating multi-page designs such as leaflets and brochures. Adobe Photoshop is a tool that can work with raster or vector based images, while Illustrator is used when vector artwork is needed. Click here to learn more about vector graphics, and click here to learn more about raster/bitmapped format.
It is important to convert your image from RGB to CMYK before you bring your work to a printer in order to get the best results. There are colors you can have in RGB that are not available in CMYK, so when the conversion happens, you may not like what the CMYK version looks like. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is what you see on a computer screen, while printers print in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), so it is important to make this conversion before printing. You can do this easily with an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, or Corel PhotoPaint. Click here to learn more about CMYK color formatting.
A bleed is when the printing extends off the page, giving you the ability to print directly to the edge of the page. This is necessary because most printing devices cannot print to the edge of the paper, and this can leave a thin, white edge. If you want a seamless design, you will want to make sure that your document is a bit bigger than you need it to be, this way you have a buffer for any imperfections that may occur during the production process. Good news, if you are using Adobe InDesign or Illustrator there is an option to add a bleed when you are setting up your document. Read more about bleeds here.
If you want to avoid having small colored halos around your characters when it’s printed out, avoid using colors on text that is smaller than 12 points. Misregistration can happen with printing presses, as all have some variation of the positioning of the different color plates, so they don’t always line up exactly. However, colored text is fine to use on text larger than 12 point; so keep the colored font for large, headline type. If you use color on small font, it will affect the readability and will make your work look unprofessional. Click here to learn more about fonts and typefaces.
The required file type can vary, but generally saving a file as a high resolution CMYK JPEG file is a safe bet. However, if you need to save as a PDF or an EPS file, it is best to outline your fonts ahead of time in order to change them into a solid shape. This will help avoid the possibility of a font mismatch, as fonts can cause trouble when they are sent between multiple computers. To ensure that there is no issue with printing your file, have your file saved as a TIFF, JPEG, PDF, EPS, or as a PSD, CDW, ID, or AI file. Often times a PDF or JPEG file can be sufficient for printing, but it’s best to be prepared!
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