• Common Print File Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    print file mistakes
    Digital Printing, Online Printing July 11, 2022

    As professional printers, we have seen our share of print file mistakes when working with our clients. These mistakes can slow down the production process, which ends up costing you time and money. Catching print file mistakes before we start printing might make you miss a deadline, but catching them after the fact is even worse. That usually means having to make corrections and reprint the whole thing. Otherwise, you’re stuck with an inferior product that doesn’t create the best impression of you or your company. Fortunately, you can prevent most print file mistakes. Here are the most common ones we see and tips for avoiding them.

    Typos

    Even in the most careful, professional offices, typos and misspellings can appear out of nowhere in your files. Leaving typos in your book, booklet, program, or catalog makes a bad first impression. It makes your printed products look sloppy and amateurish. Typos are easy to overlook, especially when you’ve been working on the same catalog copy or program notes for days. Your familiarity with the text means you’re unlikely to spot errors as easily as someone with a fresh eye can.

    Solution: Because it’s hard to look at your work objectively, let someone else handle the proofreading duties. Ask someone on your team to proofread for typos and grammar mistakes. Be sure it’s someone with a strong grasp of spelling and grammar. If you don’t have an editorial team, you’re self-publishing a book, or you want to be sure you create a good impression, hiring a freelance professional proofreader is a smart move.

    Overdone Design

    A graphic software program makes it easy to do graphic design. However, many of us go a little crazy when we first learn to use these programs and see how much they can do. We want to cram our design with pictures, mixed fonts, dozens of colors, borders, and other additions that can make the design look cluttered.

    Always remember, less really is more when it comes to layout and design. Designs with lots of white space are easier to read than those that cram lots of text onto the page. Think about the key information and images you want the reader to notice. How can you highlight them? Look for ways to use the text, graphics, and colors to help your readers focus. A simple layout with a few bright, eye-catching colors usually works best.

    Solution: Look at examples of printed products you consider attractive and well-designed. Get inspired by them. There are many attractive, professional-looking design templates you can use to create brochures, business cards, posters, programs, catalogs, and even books. If you don’t have good graphic design skills, use these templates to guide you through the design process. Are you still stumped? Hire a professional designer to get great-looking results.

    Wrong Color Profile

    In other articles on this blog, we’ve discussed the differences between red, green, blue (RGB) color profiles and cyan, yellow, magenta, and K (CYMK) color profiles. To put it simply, many graphic design software programs use the RGB color profile to add color to images. These images may look great when you see them online, but they don’t look good once they’re printed. That’s because professional printers use the CMYK color profile.

    The CMYK system is also the only way to get a true black color. You must blend the various CMYK elements to develop a true, rich black color. Otherwise, the black in your images will look gray.

    Solution: Before you give your images to a printer, convert them from RGB to CMYK. We’ve outlined ways to do that in another article on this blog. If you need help with the conversion, talk to your printing representative.

    Wrong Paper

    Choosing the wrong paper stock can be a costly mistake. You may think a thick, textured card stock is the best choice for a high-quality product. This paper is impressive, but it’s not right for every project. It may be ideal for invitations, business cards, announcements, or other items that people tend to keep, but it’s a waste of money to use it on promotional items or catalogs that they’ll probably throw away.

    On the other hand, printing everything on very thin paper isn’t a great idea, either. While you’ll save money, you may not get the look you want. Reserve light paper for newspapers, newsletters, flyers, and other print projects that don’t need high-resolution images or heavy paper.

    Solution: Choosing paper is part of the overall design. If you’re not sure what stock to use, talk to your printing company. These experts can help you figure out which paper is best for your project. Or, better yet, request our free printing sample packet, which contains a plastic coil book with samples of all of our paper choices.

    Forgotten Fonts

    Before you finish your file for printing, you must remember to embed your fonts. Your graphic design program may have a font you like and want to use. However, your printer may not have that exact font. If you don’t embed your fonts in your print file, you may have to settle for a font you didn’t choose. This can throw off your entire design. Fortunately, the fix for this problem is simple.

    Solution: After you convert your document to PDF, check to make sure all the fonts are embedded. Here are the steps you can follow in most illustrator programs:

    • Open the PDF file.
    • Go to File and Document Properties.
    • Click on the Fonts Tab. You will see a list of available fonts. The word

    “Embedded” should appear next to the name of each font.

    If your fonts aren’t embedded, follow your design program’s steps for embedding all fonts. If you’re using Adobe Illustrator, make sure the fonts you use are marked “Always Embed.”

    No Bleeds

    Most print products need a bleed area. This is the area around the page that will be cut off when your printing project is cut down to size. It’s important to leave this area colored and filled with illustrations. If you don’t, you’ll get stark white patches on your publication. Forgetting to leave a bleed area is one of the most common printing mistakes we see.

    Solution: When you add patterns, backgrounds, and colors to your design, be sure they extend fully past the edge of your document. Don’t do this with text, however. The text should stay inside the area known as the safety line, which means it won’t be cut off by when your document is trimmed to size.

    Text or Images Outside the Safety Line

    The flipside of no bleeds is having text or images that extend past the safety line. The safety line is the area where you keep text and graphics that you don’t want to be cut off when the project is cut to size. On a standard PDF, this looks like a solid border around the design. Don’t let text or graphics wander out of the safety line, or they won’t appear in your printed document.

    Solution: Always make sure you can see the safety line around your design. It will show you where to keep your words and images.

    Poor Resolution

    Resolution refers to the way your text and images look when they’re turned into a printed product. Images that look sharp and clear online can look dull and muddled when you print them. This is usually because you didn’t use a high enough resolution.

    Solution: Make sure that your images have at least 300 PPI (pixels per inch) of resolution. If you import images or rasters into your PDF file, only import those that are already set at 300 PPI or higher.

    Images from websites are often set at low resolution. It’s better to use high-resolution, high-quality images from sites that specialize in offering graphics, photos, and drawings. These sites will also help you avoid copyright problems you can run into when you download images from random websites. These image sites typically have hundreds of images you can use for free and without copyright violations.

    Avoid Print File Mistakes

    Whatever you’re printing, you can make it look its best by avoiding these common print file mistakes. At Dazzle Printing, we have experience working on a wide variety of printed projects. If you have any questions about your next print project, talk to us.

     
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