Print Design Checklist: Preparing the Design for Printing
When designing for print materials, there are some things designers need to do to ensure that the design looks as crisp as it does on the computer. Here at MicroCreatives, our designers are well-versed on the differences between print design and web design, including when to use RGB, CMYK, and Pantone colors, and on applying these principles accordingly. But if you are a designer, marketer, or business owner who has only worked on or has an understanding of digital-only design and need to prepare a design for printing, it’s important to know that designing for print is a lot different than designing for digital devices.
Here are the five essential things you need to add to your prepress checklist before sending a design to print.
Check the image resolution
Something you may not be aware of is the importance of resolution in print design. Resolution in web and digital design is not much of an issue. When printing, however, print design should come in really high resolution. Measure the resolution of print design files by DPI or dots per inch. Don’t confuse this with PPI (pixels per inch), which is used for digital design. DPI refers to the output resolution of your printer, while PPI refers to the input resolution of a photograph or image.
For best results, set the resolution to a maximum of 300 DPI. When printing an image or photograph, it’s best to have a good starting resolution. Otherwise, no matter how high you set the DPI, if the original resolution of the photo is of poor quality, then its quality will be worse when enlarged.
Check for scaling and legibility
Print design needs more care since a teeny tiny image can’t easily be blown up and printed in large sizes. You’ll end up with a heavily pixelated mess! When a design is on the screen, it looks perfect and we don’t have a good perspective of how it will be like when it’s printed. You need to create or use a design that scales great both when printed as a large image and when it’s printed as a small business card.
Consider how large or small the printed design will be and make sure the text and all elements are always legible. Vector images are scalable, so they work best for printing in any size. Raster images can be printed too, but the asset should be at a high resolution to avoid blurring.
Always add bleed
When sending design files for printing, always leave room for error. Add enough bleed to the design for good measure to make sure that there is no white border visible once the design is cut at the print shop. Different printers have different bleed requirements, so it’s best to ask your printing company how much bleed you should add.
Proofreading should be a no-brainer, but it is extremely critical to make sure the design is clear of errors before printing. Unlike digital design that can be quickly rectified and re-uploaded or republished, you waste a significant amount of money once you realize that you have already printed several copies of an erroneous design.
Never send out designs for printing without checking or proofreading. These can also be referred to as Quality Control or Quality Assurance, where you have someone else double check the work for any errors you may have missed. Some obvious things to check include spelling, grammar, and kerning for designs with copy, as well as flaws in the design.
No one wants their work to be sent back over some silly mistake you happened to just overlook.
Your own mistakes are the hardest to find and catch. So it’s best to have another pair of eyes to check your work. When you outsource design projects to MicroCreatives, not only will you get a professional graphic designer to take care of your print design needs, the service also comes with supervision by our Creative Director, Quality Assurance checks by our QA Specialist, and proofreading by our copywriters.