If you’re looking to print anything, it’s essential that your artwork is set up in the correct way. This guide will go through everything you need to know about getting your design ready for print.
Ensure your document is set up to the correct size, including a 3mm bleed around all edges
When you’re ready to print your artwork, it’s important to ensure that your document is set up correctly. The most common issues we see include:
- Your document isn’t the correct size. This can cause problems with printing and may necessitate reprinting the job at additional cost. If you don’t know what size your print job should be, ask your designer or check out our guide on how to determine print size here!
- You don’t have a 3mm bleed around all edges of the design file(s). If you’re asking for a full bleed (meaning no white space at any point), but do not have 3mm bleed around all edges (so as not to get ink on the outer edge of each sheet), then this could result in poor quality prints or even blank sheets being printed out due to misalignment between sheets of paper in a booklet or coil binding product such as an annual report or brochure. Note: if you’re going with perfect binding (stapling) instead of saddle stitching (stapling through holes punched along two sides), then there will likely still be some slight bleed area on either side outside those staples since those are part of what holds everything together. So while perfect binding doesn’t require any extra edge around its spine as saddle stitching does, it still needs some space between each page when folded into book form so everything lines up correctly when opened back up again after being closed tightly together during the binding process.”
Double check that all your colours are in CMYK
When preparing your artwork for print, it’s important to make sure that all your colours are in CMYK.
CMYK is short for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black: the four colours that make up a CMYK colour space. These are the inks used by printers to create printed matter (as opposed to inkjet or laser printers which use pigment-based ink).
A very useful fact about CMYK is that it is an additive colour mode while RGB is subtractive. This means that when you’re dealing with pure white on screen (255/255/255) in RGB mode the result will be different from how you might expect when using CMYK mode as we’ll see later on.
Convert your texts to outlines/paths
Converting your text objects to outlines is a great way to make sure they’re legible and scalable, while also making them editable. You can do this in most graphic design software, but Illustrator and InDesign are the most common options for text conversion. After converting your text object, you’ll have access to all sorts of extra control like font integration and kerning.
Include print marks and bleeds
Print marks are the lines on a printed page that mark where to trim off the image. It’s important for print marks to be included in your artwork because it will help prevent you from cutting off important parts of your design.
Bleeds are lines that extend past the edge of a printed piece, into its borders. Bleeds ensure that there is “wiggle room” in your artwork so that when you cut it out, nothing gets lost or damaged by being trimmed too close to an edge.
Check you have enough resolution – at least 300dpi, preferably higher. We recommend setting up at the largest size (e.g. if you’re creating A3 posters, set up at A0) and then scaling to the required size.
Resolution is the number of pixels per inch. It’s measured in dpi (dots per inch). The higher the resolution, the more detail your artwork will have and the better it will look when printed. The minimum resolution for print is 300dpi; however, if you’re creating large-scale or very detailed artworks, it’s best to aim for 600dpi+ as this gives you room to scale up or down without sacrificing quality.
To check your image’s resolution:
- Open your image in Photoshop (or whatever software you use)
- Click File > Image Size
- Change Resolution from 72ppi to 300ppi
Save as a PDF and then send it over for us to check!
If you want to save it as a PDF, there are two ways to do it. One is by using the “Save As” function in your software, which will create a .pdf file that you can then send us if you wish.
The other way is by making sure that in all of your applications (for example Word or Photoshop), you have set up your default save format to be PDF when saving documents. In this way, every time you use those programs and click “save” or press CTRL+S on your keyboard, they will automatically save as a PDF instead of another format like DOCX or JPEG etc., which would mean that we would not be able to open them!
Print-ready artwork is essential for getting a good quality print job.
When you’re looking to get printed artwork, it’s important that the file is print ready. Print-ready artwork is not just a matter of making sure the image looks good in your image editing program—the file itself must be prepared correctly. If you don’t follow these instructions, you will get a low-quality print job and possibly have to do it all over again!
If any of this sounds intimidating or confusing, don’t worry: most printers have their own set of instructions for creating print-ready artwork (or they can help explain it). Just call up your preferred printer and ask them!
Good print-ready artwork can be the difference between a great print job and one that falls short. The key thing to remember is that the details are what really matter and making sure everything is set up correctly. Once you’ve got that down, everything else will follow suit!