When you put time, effort and money into a printed piece, you want to ensure the highest quality final product. At Ambit Creative Group, we guide our customers through every step of the printing process to ensure the best end result. That excellence starts at the very beginning of the project creation. Today on our blog, we’re going to cover the top mistakes we see in preparing printing files, so you can start your next project off on the right foot and guarantee exceptional quality.
When setting up a project, there are many software applications available to choose from, some better than others. Most software applications can be defined by what function it performs. The software applications best used for print can be defined by six basic categories, they are: Page layout, Illustration, Image/Photo Editing, Word processing, Presentation, and Data manipulation. The mistake we see most often is when the wrong software application is used. For example, PowerPoint is a great tool for creating presentation files. However, when PowerPoint is used to create a poster file that will be enlarged to print at 400%, the final product will be very low quality. To avoid this issue, check in with either your Graphic Designer or Ambit team member to inquire on the best software application to use for your purposes. They’ll have a strong understanding of the output methods and can guide you on what to use based on the physical size of the final printed piece.
Document Size and Bleeds
Incorrect document size and missing bleed is one of the most common errors we see in preparing files for print. Your document size should be setup to match the final size of your printed product. Bleed is art that will run off the edge of the final printed sheet. In order to accommodate this bleed you must extend the graphics in your document beyond the edge of the document – the industry standard is to extend the graphics by 0.125” beyond the final trim edge. While exporting your final print PDF file be sure that you are selecting the correct PDF export settings. It’s important that you include crop marks and bleeds during PDF export.
It’s imperative that the colors you use in your document match the colors you intend to print with. Computer monitors display colors using light, so a project that will be viewed on screen only (like an email) should be setup as RGB. A project that is intended to print should not be setup as RGB. The most common method used for printing is process colors. If you will be process printing your project, the document should be set-up in CMYK color space. On occasion you may choose to print using Pantone colors, in which case your document should be setup using spot colors. The Ambit team is available at the start of your project to dive deeper into this issue and help you choose the correct color space for your document.
As we mentioned above, one of the mistakes we see all of the time with print-ready files are low-quality images. To correct this issue, you need to go back to the beginning when you’re creating the document to print. To start, the document should be the same size and resolution that you plan to print at. That way, you don’t lose resolution when you enlarge the document. For example, if you started with an 8 ½” x 11” document, but wanted to print a 24”x48” poster, you’d need to enlarge it at the last minute. Then, you’ll lose over 4 times the original resolution. For reference, we recommend at least 150dpi quality for images for a typical 24”x48” poster.
There you have it! You are now ready to get started on your next print project. Following these tips will help you create a final product with excellent printed quality. Want more help in setting up your files for printing? Contact us today for assistance – we’re here to help and ensure you get the best results!