We live in a digital world. So, when it comes to designing for print it can be easy to forget some of the basic principles that can have a serious impact on the quality of your final product. To save you agonizing headaches and empty pockets here are a few common pitfalls you should avoid when setting up design for print.

#1 Don’t forget the Bleed

In a perfect world, every printed sheet is cut to size and aligned perfectly. Of course, we’re not perfect, for that there are bleeds. Bleeds are the margin around the edge of your design where any elements touching the edge of the page are extended slightly. This permits no unwanted white space outlining your design when trimmed to size.

Bleeds differ between presses so make sure you ask your printer what specs work best for your project.

#2 Don’t Misuse RGB & CMYK

Color modes are important. When designing for digital, RGB (red, green and blue) is often used to align with your monitor and how it will display on your screen. Displays use the admittance of light to create colors and when all the primary colors are combined it forms a white light. This is why most computer programs have RGB as the default in designing files.

When ink and toner are used for print, however, the element of light is not represented. That’s where the color system of CYMK (cyan, yellow, magenta, black) comes into play. The more ink you mix the darker the color gets. Design applications have a CMYK color scale you can use to ensure your design comes out in the color you expect. Unfortunately, the spectrum of color that can be produced by light is much wider than that of ink so failing to select the CMYK color mode can land you with a dull and muted final product.

Save yourself time and work by starting with the CMYK color mode from the beginning.

#3 Watch Lines & Weights

If you’re incorporating text or fine lines into your design make sure you’re not spreading them too thin. You want your design to be accessible to all audiences and when your lines are too lightweight or smaller than 6pt you lose detail and elements become illegible. Also, keep in mind that thin text can disappear in darker backgrounds. A good rule of thumb is to make your font size no smaller than 12pt.

#4 Proofread

Always double check. Finding a spelling error or an ugly kerning after you have printed over a thousand copies can be one of the most frustrating and expensive experiences. Mistakes on the web can be fixed easily but in print it’s devastating. Pass around your proof around the office and get it proofread, sometimes it just needs a new pair of eyes.


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