The 7 Most Common Money Draining Printing Mistakes You Can Avoid

Inadequate Bleeds

If you fail to build a proper bleed in your artwork, you’re asking for trouble. Basically, “bleed” refers to artwork that extends beyond the trim line of your document. Proper bleed of 1/8 of an inch is necessary to ensure there are no “void” areas in places where you expect an image or graphic to extend to the trim line of your document. Documents intended to have bleed but that are not set up properly, could result in disappointment with a thin “white” line (which is the paper) appearing where it’s not suppose to – even worse, more money out of your pocket to fix your file and reprint your job. It’s also important to understand while 1/8 of an inch bleed is standard for offset printing, other types of printing such as large format posters, etc may require a different bleed allowance. We recommend to consult with your print vendor prior to designing your project to ensure you are work within their requirements.

Not Enough Safe Area

A safe area is a sort of “buffer” area, where no text or defined elements (such as logos) should be located. A safe area should be at least 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the document. This imaginary border is necessary for two reasons – first, aesthetically it looks better when there is space between your content and the edge of your document or if a folded brochure, the fold lines. Second, because during the finishing (cutting, folding) process, there is the potential for slight paper shift which could result in cutting through content that is too close to the edge of your document or content creeping into the fold of your brochure, etc. Poor file preparation will result in a poorly finished product which could make a negative impact on the image of your business.

Poor Image Resolution

The optimum image resolutions for printing is 300 dpi (dots per inch). Using low-resolution images will cause major problems. The common mix-up is using a 72 dpi image that came from the internet and expecting for it to print as clear as you see it on your computer screen or, taking a small image that is 300 dpi and enlarging it more than 300%. Both scenarios will result in a poorly finished product that will be pixilated and blurry. If you do not have access to high quality images for your printed materials, we would suggest one of the following – obtain a good digital camera or a photographer to take photos that best represent your product, purchase high resolution stock photography or simply do not use images in your document. It’s better to fill your document with additional content that could be valuable to your clients rather than poor quality images.

Blurry Black Text

When printing a 4-color process (full color) job avoid using “registration black” for text that you intend to only print “black”, instead use “process black”. Using “registration black” could result in blurry text, especially with thin font styles that are 10pt or less. “Registration black” is comprised of 4 different colors that must lay on top of each other “register” perfectly in order to not appear blurry. “Process black” is simply one color, black, which will print crisp and clear every time. This is a simple tip that could save you time and money if eliminated before you submit your file for printing.

Failure to Create a Proper Print Ready PDF

This is one of the main printing mistakes people make. Let’s say you need to export your artwork as a PDF. So far, so good. But here are a few tips to ensure your PDF file will print properly – always be sure to embed the fonts, include crop marks, set bleeds, do not attempt to impose pages (leave them as single pages) and flatten all layers. Follow these tips and your artwork “should” not only print okay, but save you a whole lot of time by eliminating the back and forth time spent with your print vendor. And remember: if you provide your printer with raw design files such as InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop, always include the fonts and images when you package your design file for printing.

Poor Proofreading

Everyone makes spelling mistakes from time-to-time. But spelling mistakes that aren’t noticed until a design has been printed are an expensive mistake. This is unacceptable due to costs and inconvenience. So when you’re reviewing your proof, carefully proofread for accuracy, spelling, correct grammar, proper imagery, punctuation, accurate folding (if required) etc. It’s your responsibility if your approved job prints with errors which could be extremely expensive to fix and reprint.

Not Supplying a Hard Copy “dummy” or Mock Up

A hard copy mock up is the best way to ensure accuracy and allows the printer to see exactly how you intend for your finished product to look. Simply print out a sample of your project then trim and fold so it best represents an actual finished piece. If your project is double sided or multiple pages, be sure to show how the pages back up to each other and the proper pagination. If a brochure, show how it should fold. If there is scoring and die cutting required, physically draw lines on your print out showing proper placement. Providing a mock up to the printer along with your file will significantly decrease the potential for error saving you time and money.