Congratulations! After hours and hours of planning, designing, and tweaking, your graphic is ready to be printed onto marketing materials. Whether you’re printing new business cards, sticker labels, vinyl banners, or anything else, you need to make sure that your graphic prints correctly.
You never want to print an order and have tons of your products come in not exactly as you expected. This blog post covers 5 things you need to do so your graphic is 100% ready to be printed.
Proofread Your Work
Little mistakes like spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors may be hard to spot, but they are incredibly important. Although small, they can be enough of an error to make your customers question your credibility. If a business does not take the time to proofread their marketing materials, do they take their time to produce a high-quality product or service? Maybe not. In addition, errors on printed materials are especially bad because unlike digital typos, they are physical mistakes that cannot be corrected. Before you send your graphic off to print, check your work for mistakes and typos.
Check Your Spacing
Now that your graphic doesn’t have any errors in writing, it’s time to check for errors in your spacing and layout. Your graphic may look great blown up on a large monitor, but it may look off on whatever you’re printing. Check that every element of your design, including titles, body text, icons, and images, are spaced and laid out so they are both good-looking and legible on whatever they are being printed on.
Check Image Sizing and DPI
For your graphic to print at a high quality not only does it need to be at the correct size and resolution, but the overall design and images within it need to have the correct DPI. DPI stands for dots per inch, with a higher DPI indicating a clearer image and vice versa. Just like with spacing, your design may look great on a monitor, but not so much when printed if it has a low DPI. File size and dimensions of an image are good indicators of a high quality image on a computer, but a high DPI is necessary for images to print at a high quality. 300 DPI or higher is typically recommended for most marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, and business cards. But for larger items like banners and signs, you can get away with a lower DPI. On Windows, you can check the DPI of your graphic and the images within by viewing the file’s “Properties” on the File Explorer, and on a Mac you can use the “Inspector” tool on the Finder.
Check Your Bleed and Crop Marks
Another thing you need to do is check your graphic’s bleed and crop marks. If you’ve ever printed a full sheet of color at home, you probably noticed that your printer leaves a white border around it. This is because a printer cannot print to the edges of a sheet of paper. When a graphic is professionally printed, it is actually both printed and cut around the outside so that elements appear to be printed edge to edge. Elements that should be printed edge to edge need to extend slightly into the bleed area so the cutting line isn’t just outside of your graphic, leaving a white line of exposed paper. Bleed referring to the outer area, past the trimming line where your graphic is cropped. When preparing your graphic for print you need to be mindful of what elements need to extend into the bleed area, and where it will be cut.
Change Your Color Mode From RGB to CMYK
Computer screens and printers process color differently, and if your graphic isn’t in the correct color mode it won’t be printed accurately. In short, computers process RGB, red, green, and blue, to create every shade of color; while printers process CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), to create every shade of color. For your graphic to print as accurately as possible, make sure that it is designed and saved in the correct color mode.
Before your graphic is ready to be printed there are a lot of things that you need to double-check. But, with these 5 tips in mind, your graphic’s text, images, and layout should be ready to go, and print beautifully. If you have a graphic ready, or have any questions about preparing your file for print please email firstname.lastname@example.org!