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Five things designers must do to make files print-ready

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Everyone wants to get their job done right the first time. Errors cause delays, frustration and, sometimes, they impact a business’ bottom line. Graphic designers know this all too well. Their checklists involve much more than creating engaging projects on deadline. They must ensure that the files they submit can even get printed.

Here are five things that must be done before sending files to a commercial printer.

Use a design program

Programs such as InDesign use industry-developed packaging features to assemble graphics, links and font files together in a compressed folder. Programs such as PowerPoint or Excel are intended for screen presentations. Printing directly from one of these programs could lead to issues, including color inconsistencies, type flow and bleed errors.

Account for document bleed

Print files must include a “bleed,” the margin on an image (set at .125 inches) that allows for inaccuracies to be trimmed once the page is printed. This is not only important for preparing print files but also for the folding process. If the bleed is not properly accounted for, the finished product will show a white gap when folded.

Use high-res images

File resolution is one of the most important aspects of quality printing. The ideal resolution is 300 Dots Per Inch (DPI). Otherwise, the printed product will come out looking grainy. The size of the image or graphic is also a contributing factor to quality. If an image is enlarged, there is an equivalent decrease in resolution. Doubling the size of an image with 300 DPI, for example, will cause the DPI to fall by half to 150.

Build black better for print

Black is black, right? Well, not always. Black is rarely comprised of only black hues. Instead, its colors are a mixture of several shades. These colors need to be built manually for digital printing with a process that incorporates many colors to allow for complete saturation.

Incorporate font files

Choosing the most appropriate font is vital for any design project that includes text. But fonts have different personalities and don’t always react the same in a printing environment. Some may even be covered by specific licenses. It’s important that font files are sent along with the rest of the project files. It is true that substitutes can be used in extreme cases, but these can cause issues and impact the project.

West Press’ talented staff is here to help you each step of the way — from graphic design to printing to mailing services to large format to website development. Contact West Press or your Account Executive at 520-624-4939 today.