Guidelines and tips for great print.
Contrary to popular belief, getting a document professionally printed is not as easy as clicking print. So we’ve set up some guidelines to help.
Setting up a file to print correctly is a complicated process, and if you haven’t done it before there’s a lot you need to know. Without correct set-up, a printer will ‘bounce’ your job back to you for you to fix, wasting your time, or will charge you.through the nose for them to fix, wasting your money. But if you follow these guidelines before you start designing, your print job should go through smoothly.
Of course, if you get halfway through this document and start to panic, don’t worry. You can arrange to have us sort this all out for you at a competitive rate – and we’ll throw in our great design and marketing expertise as well.
We’ve been doing this for years, so we know what works.
- Check your document for technical errors.
- Send it back to you to fix if there is an issue.
- Try to fix the issue for you if you choose at a charge (we will let you know what this is beforehand).
- Verify your file will print correctly.
- Check your document for spelling, grammar or inaccuracies.
- Check your document for missing images or text.
- Send your document to print without advising you of technical errors.
- Provide you with a proof – so ensure you check your document carefully before sending to us.
We provide New Zealand’s best combination of quality and value for print and distribution.
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Probably the most important part of print is setting up your document correctly for trim.
You may think A4 means A4 – right?
Wrong. A4 means A4 after being trimmed – before trim, you document needs to be bigger than A4, by 3mm in each direction. This 3mm area is called bleed. So if you’re setting up an A4 document, your document size should be A4 (210 x 297mm) PLUS 3mm bleed, making the document 216 x 303mm.
A program like Adobe InDesign has options for adding bleed in the document set up, but others you may have to set up manually.
Why all the hassle?
When your document is trimmed to A4 size, the guillotine may deviate slightly, even up to a few millimetres. If your document bleeds over this edge, then the deviation won’t be detectable. But if your document ends at exactly A4, you will end up with a white strip around the outside.
Furthermore, bleed adds a space for your crop marks, which show the printer exactly where to trim, so they can line the guillotine up correctly. If you’re working in InDesign, selecting the ‘show all printers marks’ option when exporting to PDF will automatically add crop marks.
In addition to bleed, you should design your artwork with a 4mm Safe Area within each side of your document. Don’t place any text or important images in this area, as you may find them slipping off the edge of the page.
IN SUMMARY – DOCUMENT SET UP
- Add an extra 5mm to each side of your document size.
- Add crop marks to show where the page should be trimmed
Standard Print Sizes
- A3 – 297x420mm
- A4 – 210x297mm
- A5 – 148x210mm
- A6 – 105x148mm
- DL – 99x210mm
- Business Card – 90x55mm
Using Colour Profiles
There are several different ways of setting colour in your artwork, and it’s crucial that the correct profile is used.
Your computer, scanner and camera uses what is called an RGB (Red Green Blue) colour profile.
There is a much wider spectrum of colours that can be viewed on a screen than printed using standard inks, so your images need to be converted before printing to what is called CMYK.
Printing presses use a colour profile called CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) – sometimes referred to as process colour.
Basically, at some stage, any RGB images need to be converted to CMYK. This can be easily done using Photoshop prior to printing; however, if you don’t perform the conversion yourself, when we print your file we’ll apply a standard conversion, meaning you may get unexpected results or colours may look washed out.
If you don’t have Photoshop, there are freeware apps available online that can do the job – Gimp is one example.
This may be surprising, but black is not always the best black.
While small areas of black such as text or logos should be created only in black in, a combination of 100% black and 40% cyan is best for larger black areas.
One thing to watch out for…
When placing an image with a black background into a black document, the blacks may look the same on screen, but will print as a black box unless they are matched perfectly.
SPOT OR PANTONE
Spot colours, also known as Pantone colours, are inks used by printers to get a very specific colour.
They are mixed like paint and used one at a time. Generally, you do not want to be using spot colours unless you’ve discussed it with your printer first, as the appearance of spot colours in your job will generate an extra colour plate at additional cost.
You can check your document by printing separations – check your application help file for instructions on how this works. If you get anything other than a cyan, magenta, yellow and black separation print, you have extra colours in your document that you need to convert.
Sometimes an RGB or spot colour has no direct CMYK equivalent – especially if you’ve got very bright or fluorescent colours. When you convert them, your software will choose the closest possible colour, but colours can come out quite different from what you were expecting.
Be aware also that colours on screen appear brighter and stronger than when printed – it always pays to run off a laser print to check how they’re looking, especially when it comes to tints.
IN SUMMARY – COLOUR
- RGB must be converted to CMY
- Don’t use Spot/Pantone unless you specifically need the colour and are happy to pay for the extra print costs
- Check your blacks
Print is done using a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – commonly referred to as CMYK.
A full colour image against a black background often looks great! Just remember that black in an image is not just 100% black, but a mix of all four CMYK colours.
When working with photographs, always save them as TIFF or PSD files.
Don’t use JPEGs – a JPEG applies a compression every time you save it which throws away information, and the image will rapidly decline in quality. If your image is already in JPEG format, re-save it as a TIFF.
To get a decent image, your photographs should be 300dpi (dots per inch) at 100% print size.
Photographs on websites are generally only 72 dpi. This means that when they’re printed, they will look fuzzy or pixilated, so don’t ever take images off a website and place them in your document – you won’t like the result.
As an image is scaled larger, the dots per inch decreases, and the more the image quality declines. Ideally, you should already have the image at the right size or larger so no stretching is required. If you must make your image slightly larger, try to keep the increase within 30% of the original size, or it will become very noticeable. Always scale to proportion – if the image is the wrong shape crop it, don’t ever stretch it more one way or another. It will be noticeable, and it will look very bad.
Scan photographs at 300dpi at the size you are going to use them. Scan black and white line art at 1200dpi and save as a bitmap.
IN SUMMARY – PHOTOGRAPHY
- Don’t use JPEGs
- Don’t stretch or scale larger
- Don’t use images off the web
Use images at the full size at 300dpi. Images taken from websites are likely to pixelate and lose quality.
So now you’ve read this guide, done all the things we’ve told you to, and you’re ready to send us your artwork! Just a few more dos and don’ts to make sure it all arrives in one piece.
GETTING YOUR ARTWORK TO US
- Send us your artwork via email.
- Send us your artwork in PDF format.
- Print off your artwork at home and check it carefully before sending it to us – we won’t provide you with proofs or samples.
- Check your artwork is set up correctly for print.
- Send us any live files.
- Send us files in MS Word, Publisher, or any other application.
Of course, if you are unsure about anything in this guide, you can always contact us – we’re more than happy to talk you through it.
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