Are Your Design Files Print-Ready?

At Prospect Communications, we’re here to help you make a smooth transition from design to print. Here are some ideas that can help you avoid making expensive mistakes.

Timing is critical
Call us and ask for turnaround times before starting your project, and plan your milestones accordingly, so that work can be submitted on schedule. Always allow for twice as much time so you can accomodate the unexpected. Advance planning guards against panic around the deadline and is essential to getting your project printed accurately and delivered on time. If your piece includes mailing, you will need to increase your lead time. Mailings can take anywhere from 2-4 days to be delivered.

Embed your fonts for accurate reproduction
In order to maintain the design’s integrity, embed your fonts directly into your document. This will prevent font substitutions which can occur when the exact font isn’t available. As any designer will know, there is a distinct difference between Garamond and Bookman, Courier and Times, so it’s well worth taking the time to include your font files with the document!

Print size matters
One of the most common design errors is sending a document that is smaller than the size it needs to be printed. For maximum sharpness, it is important that you create your document at the same size that it will be printed.  Designing at actual size greatly reduces the possibility of printing errors.

iStock_000009303510-FrogWithMagnifyingGlassProof your document thoroughly
We’ve all been there; you send your final artwork off, only to find out a couple of days later that the telephone number or web address is incorrect. What a nightmare! It is essential that you allow yourself plenty of time to thoroughly proof your document for every kind of error. A misplaced comma can drastically change the meaning of a sentence, and a missing period or hyphen makes an email address unusable. One way to proof your copy is to read it backwards at least once. It sounds illogical, but it can make it easier to spot any glaring errors.

Check your image proportions, dimensions and resolution
Even when your images are properly sized, be sure that the resolution is high enough. Low resolution images which are dramatically enlarged from their original size, result in an unacceptable final product. In order to get the best results, make the resolution of your images 300DPI, it’s the industry standard.

Consistency is Key
Consistency in presentation and style is the hallmark of a sucessful brand. With this in mind, make your margins consistent throughout your work, especially on multi-page documents. For booklets, page margins need to be equal on both the inside and outside so that the page is centered. If you change something essential on one page, make sure that change is repeated on every other page. Look for consistency as part of your final proofing.

Convert your graphic to CMYK
To avoid costly color correction, convert your document from RGB to CMYK. On screen, the difference is invisible; but in printing the difference is dramatic. Be sure that your designer checks in with us to find out the exact color specifications.

A document that “bleeds” is printed to the edges of the paper and beyond. This is a common design practice for flyers and business cards that have color that goes all the way to the edge. To make this work, you have to submit a design that is larger than the actual document. For example, an 8.5 x 11 flyer should be made to “bleed” an extra 0.25 ins which equals 8.75 x 11.25. Your flyer will be printed at the larger size, and then be cut down to 8.5 x 11 with the color  continuing to the outer edge.

At Prospect, we can print from many document formats, including Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Microsoft Word, but we prefer to receive your document as a PDF. No matter what program you use to create your piece, we recommend that you create the PDF version yourself, so you know if anything has changed in the conversion. Send us a PDF and you can be sure that we’re both looking at the same document.

Here at Prospect we work hard to keep the lines of communication open, and our goal is to catch any problems before they arise. Call us at any time during your project with questions about the time line, the type of document, or the types of papers we have available. Communication is the key to a successful printing project.

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