Collaboration between a designer and their client is crucial for crafting flawless brochures, posters, or business cards. It is essential for both parties to actively participate in every stage of the project, starting from generating ideas to the final printing. Regrettably, there is a common misconception among them that prepress and printing tasks should solely be entrusted to the technicians at a print shop.
It is crucial to avoid this error! Allowing individuals without a design background to make modifications to your file can lead to unintended design changes that undermine the intended layout’s overall impact. To prevent any loss in translation from your computer to the print shop, performing your own thorough prepress evaluation of design files can save you valuable time and prevent numerous headaches. Moreover, it can significantly reduce your expenses!
Here is a comprehensive prepress checklist you can follow step-by-step:
- Thoroughly proofread all text and content.
- Verify font spacing and ensure proper kerning and tracking.
- Confirm that all images are the correct size and have the appropriate resolution for printing.
- Ensure color accuracy by checking that all colors are in the desired CMYK or Pantone format.
- Calibrate your computer screens to ensure accurate color representation.
- Define bleed and crop marks to indicate where the design extends beyond the final trim size.
- Create a high-resolution PDF file that preserves the quality and integrity of your design.
- Select the ideal paper type that suits your project’s requirements, considering factors like weight, finish, and durability.
According to large-volume print production expert Allen Glazer, 25-75% of a design project’s budget should be set aside for printing costs. If you don’t catch a mistake in prepress, it will be much more costly to fix down the line.
Preparing graphic design files for printing can be quick and easy once you know what elements to look for. To give you the upper hand when it comes time to print, we’ve put together a prepress checklist that covers everything you need to look for when finalizing your proof. It incorporates everything from simple editing to advanced technical procedures. And of course, both designer and client should be involved. Here’s our prepress checklist to help get you started:
1. Thoroughly proofread everything
Paying close attention to detail is crucial, as even small oversights like typos and grammatical errors can have a significant impact on your business. According to a poll conducted by Standing Dog Interactive, a mere 3 percent of people are tolerant of such errors, with the majority considering them as decisive factors in determining whether they will continue reading or choose a competitor.
The poll suggests that typos and grammatical mistakes can lead to negative user experiences, which in turn can harm sales. It highlights the importance of ensuring error-free content to provide a positive experience for potential customers visiting your website.
Maintaining error-free content
Becomes even more critical when it comes to printing, as once your design is in the hands of consumers, real-time updates are not possible.
When preparing your file for printing, it’s essential to address two types of proofreading. Linguistic proofreading focuses on what is commonly associated with editing, including checking for grammar mistakes, typos, spelling errors, and ensuring the overall language flow used in the advertisement is smooth and coherent. This step helps guarantee that the text is error-free and effectively communicates your message to the audience.
Also known as graphic proofreading, focuses on the visual aspects of the text from a graphic standpoint. It involves examining elements such as splitting words at the end of line breaks, the length of lines themselves, and the spacing of the text. One crucial consideration is maintaining consistent line lengths when breaking sentences. It’s important to avoid longer or shorter lines that stand out and disrupt the overall uniformity within a block of text if not properly spaced. By paying attention to these graphic details, you can ensure the visual appeal and cohesiveness of the text in your design.
2. Adjust font spacing
After completing the proofreading process, it’s essential to fine-tune the spacing of your fonts. While most fonts and design programs come with default settings, relying solely on them may result in suboptimal visual appeal.
To achieve the desired look and make your design stand out, it’s important to apply classic typography techniques. This involves adjusting the leading (line spacing), tracking (letter-spacing within a word), and kerning (space between individual letters) of your text. By treating your entire composition as a cohesive image, you ensure that every punctuation mark, letter, block of negative space, and paragraph work harmoniously together, providing a seamless and visually pleasing experience for the viewer of your design.
3. Verify image size and resolution
Before proceeding with printing, it is crucial to double-check the size and resolution of your images. This involves not only considering the resolution of the photos used in your design but also the resolution at which you save your final draft.
For print materials, it is recommended to save your design files at a resolution of 300 DPI or higher. As Sara Duane-Gladden from SpeckyBoy suggests, it is generally advisable to save your design files at the highest resolution possible. Remember that while you can scale an image down if necessary, adding pixels after the fact is impossible.
It’s generally best to avoid enlarging photos by more than 20 percent of their original size to maintain optimal quality. Resizing images within your document affects the output resolution of the image as well. This consideration is particularly important for larger print items such as flyers, brochures, and advertorials that feature high-quality images. However, when printing on canvas, a resolution of 100 DPI may suffice for a certain size threshold.