In print design, there are common mistakes print designers make that can be avoided if you are aware of them and include them in your prepress checklist. If you are more aware of the design and printing process, you will always have a successful print product.
Try to avoid the all-too-common snags when designing your projects
Too low resolution
Keep in mind when designing your piece, that all printed products should be a minimum of 300dpi. Pixelated images, unreadable text, etc. will be the result of too low-resolution. Also, try to refrain from just using images from the web. Many of these probably seem “perfect” for your project, but will not result in a quality product.
Creating text in Illustrator or Photoshop is fine, but it should always be flattened before submission. Within Photoshop, choose ‘Rasterize Type’ and within Illustrator, choose ‘Create Outlines’. You can easily avoid errors that relate to missing fonts by taking this step. Keep in mind that the text cannot be edited once you do this, but if you are done with the editing process, make this a last step before file submission. ALWAYS check for misspellings or typos. Having more than one person look over a job before submission is recommended. A printer is not responsible for catching your errors in spelling.
In Photoshop, you simply select the text layer in your Layer palette and click Layer > Rasterize > Type. Save to a different file name after you have created the text outlines.
In Illustrator, you just select the text box and choose Layer > Create Outlines. The same recommendation to Save As a different file name applies.
In InDesign, you only need to make sure that you create a complete file, which will collect all your fonts and images so that your printer has everything required to produce a successful piece.
This is an important one… Start by making sure you delete any unused colors from your color palette in your designed piece. When you tell your printer what colors you are using, you don’t want any confusion when it goes through the pre-printing check. If there is any confusion there can be delays and potential errors.
Also be sure to provide proper color definitions. For instance, if your job is a spot color job, make sure all your PMS colors are defined as such (and not process). Not defining your colors as spot colors will cause your piece to be output incorrectly. If you have two spot colors you used within your project, instead of getting one piece of film for each of the two colors, you could end up with four pieces of film – one each of CMYK.
For a 4-color process job, likewise, you need to define your job as such. Within your design/publishing software, you need to specify process, or you could end up with the extra film/plate again.
Another important step is to try to match color names throughout all your applications used to create your project. Having identical color names will keep you from having unexpected results in your printed piece.
Defining your color space is equally as important. Imported images—if not defined using the correct color space—can cause print failures as well. If you find you have used Photoshop images, but your job isn’t to be a 4-colour process job, this can be a little tricky. Be sure to define your color before your document goes to your printer. For CMYK mixes (for example 80% cyan, 50% magenta, 30% yellow, 20% black), use that same mix throughout all applications to keep your colors identical in your project.Keep in mind that RGB is only appropriate for images that you will be using in a project that will display on a screen (such as your website or an electronic publication). Print designs should ALWAYS have images converted to CMYK.
For PDFs for print, Enfocus’ PitStop Pro 12 can help you rest-assured you have a PDF that will print error-free. Version 12 boasts powerful color management features that can save you time, money and a disappointing outcome.
Using Borders in your project
To keep your border from being trimmed off your printed piece, make sure they are thick enough to extend all the way out to your bleed edge. Thickening your border will give you the desired effect.
Likewise with images. Extend your images about 1/8″ beyond the trim edge to ensure it will not be cut off.
If you have imported images within your project, make sure you use the correct image format on all of them. EPS or TIFF are the formats of choice. Make sure to convert all images before submission.
In addressing images, we can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure all your low-resolution images are replaced with high-resolution versions.
This is a BIG one! Missing fonts cause job failures and delays and can be avoided if you make sure you have used a real font and take the time to double-check them all to make sure every font used within your project is included with the file that goes to your printer. You want to avoid your fonts being converted to a default font that can completely change your design/layout. This includes imported image files. Again, if you use fonts in your images, the above advice to convert them to outlines is recommended. In Illustrator, convert any fonts in images to paths and in Photoshop, rasterize the font(s).
Do not simply choose italic on your toolbar and expect a smooth output. Make sure it is the actual italic version of your font. Different font types also come into play. With Type 1 fonts, for instance, you have to send both components (printer and screen) or the font will not print correctly. Open Type fonts and TrueType fonts don’t have separate printer and screen versions, so those would be just the specific font you used. Collecting all elements of your job for output will also ensure your printer isn’t missing anything, preventing delays.
Make sure to provide your printer with any specific information or instructions regarding your print job. Put any and all concerns about your project in writing so that your printer sees them right out of the gate. These instructions can save you from a print disaster or disappointment and if your printer has questions regarding your instructions, he can reach you before starting your job.