What designers & editors need to know about the print production process

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Every now and then we get a correctly-set up print file, using the right software, with bleed and crop marks, and we sigh in relief. Yay – we can meet our client’s deadline because the file is set up to match the print specs. But more likely than not is the appearance of files that do the EXACT opposite of that, so we have to make sure that the left is talking to the right etc before the project goes haywire in the production phase.

Believe me, it ain’t easy. But as print management suppliers of large format banners, short-run digital and everything inbetween, we have to make sure the files are perfect in order to meet our client expectations as well as what is on the printer’s purchase order.

So this is why designers and editors have to understand the print production process: so we can help clients get what they are expecting. Here are a few ways to know your print specifications and process, as a designer or editor:

  1. Know the difference between RGB and CMYK and Spot: it might be a swatch setting in Illustrator, Indesign or Photoshop but knowing which one is going to go through the commercial printer profiles will save you money and heartache, not to mention visual identity consistency.
  2. Pixel perfect: work to scale and make sure that if you are using images that are from the internet, that they are 300dpi at 100% to size in your print document. harder for larger surfaces like large format banners, but they tend to print at lower dpis anyway – ask what dpi can be lowered to.
  3. Bleed for it: printed items on sheet-fed machines will need bleed, so ask or stick to what the specs ask for. Point of sale are more flexible or don’t need bleed, but always check first before despatching your files.
  4. Ink density: Checking what the density is for big print run publications may be able to be done via Websend or other portals, but its a good idea to lift dot gain and check the density before sending the images as they may look dull or dark as is.
  5. Backsave files: Printers may not have the latest versions of Adobe Creative Suite so backsave your files if they don’t do it as part of the file collection on your despatch. Indesign saves an .IDML automatically with packaging.
  6. Communication: Even if your file and artwork is perfect, a lot can still go wrong so it is incredibly important to talk with your printer and build a strong relationship. Know what stage your print job is at and plan for a window to troubleshoot or adjust proofs.

So if you are a small business, creative agency or Association and need help planning your next print project, please consider printing it with Coleface.

If you liked this post, please share it and click on the FOLLOW buttons to get more! If you love printing, get the latest email updates by subscribing here. Sydney print management experts Coleface Print Management and Production provide advice and support for our clients on all aspects of printing and production such as digital, large format and offset printing, point of sale, packaging and mail management. Written by @Olsonwells.