A friendly reminder for all designers

Posted on December 4th, 2014 | Tags: Design, Technical

As this is year’s end I thought it would be a good time to talk about the little things that make life more difficult for us here at Copy Express as your printer and can effect the quality of the the items you want printed. These problems are simple little things that even professional designers will forget on occasion, so I thought it would be great to let you know what can be done to make life simpler for you and us

Don’t try guess how we will print your work

Quite often we will get work from designer with the work laid out on pages set up in the way they think we will print and cut the pages. It never works out that way as it often messes up the bleeds and printing order. I then have to edit the file to give me the bleed and order I need to be able to print it correctly, a cost I’ll be passing on the the client that could have been avoided. If you are unsure, just give us a call and we will be happy to give you the information you need to get it set-up just right.  We recommend that you lay your files 1-up.  If you want a DL flyer, don’t put 3 on an A4 page – just give us the DL (center it on the page if you can’t adjust the page size) with bleed.
If you want printing right to the edge of your work, then we need “bleed” otherwise you’ll end up with a border around the edges of the work. Printers need edges to be able to ensure that when we cut we don’t leave any white space around the edge. The position can slip up to 0.5mm when printing, and if we are trimming that can slip up to 0.5mm too. That means that if we don’t have bleed then you could can end up with a 1mm wide white strip on the finished item – or worse, an ever so slight skewed or “miscut” item. This would have been imperceptable if the colour bled off the page, but easily noticed when there is a white strip evident at the side.  Bleed builds in a safety margin to avoid this problem. We have talked about bleed before on the blog, here  for right mesurements and what we need.
Not enough margins
As a follow on to bleed margins is another area that can be so easily done wrong. The same blog article talks about safe zones (margins) but in a nutshell, any important text or artwork within 3mm of a cut runs the risk of being cut or being so close that work looks off balanced. If we printing items like books or calendars then we need more to allow for a problem known as creep where the inner pages stick out past the edges of the outer pages. Again if you aren’t sure if that will be a problem for your job, just send us a provisional version and we can email you back comments on what needs to be done.
Non-standard Sizes
All too often I get material designed on a computer where for some reason the page size has been set to American Letter or American Legal size instead of an A4. Now normally it’s not a problem we will scale the source to fit the best we can to the standard A4. If you want to use some odd fraction of a A4 or A3 page for a unique design we don’t mind printing it. The size you chose may limit how many we can fit into a printing sheet which can effect your printing costs. It can also effect how we can fold or bind it. Bringing us in at an early stage of the design we can advise you on how to get what you want in the most practical and cost effective way.

Embed your fonts

Ideally you want your client to come back to you whenever there is a change to a design you have created for them. In reality that won’t happen because for quick and dirty changes, like updating a phone number on a business card, they often get us to fix it then and there. With that in mind, if you can embed your fonts in the pdf please do so, so if we have to edit it we have the full font to access and use. If you can’t embed it, then there is usually some work around we printers can do to get the job done. Also unless you have no other choice, please don’t turn type in to vector drawings. You don’t know how much of a pain in the neck it is to edit a phone number when it’s line art.

Printing white on black or coloured card

I know they have just brought out digital printers that can print white on colour papers but the cost of the equipment and the inks are so prohibitive that it’s going to stay the domain of very high end printing for quite some time. Even black card isn’t cheap because it isn’t used that much so they put a big markup on it. If you want to have a black card with white writing, what you will have is a white card with black everywhere but the writing because it’s far cheaper and easier to do.

There is a lot more I can talk about when it comes to the little things you as designer can do to make both your and your printer’s life easier but I’ll wrap it up by saying this. The best tool you can have in your design toolbox is a friendly printer like us at Copy Express. We can help you avoid the pitfalls that wastes your time and annoys your client. Just give us a call or an email and we will be happy to help.