Thursday, September 14, 2017

Print is not dead despite the surge in digital marketing techniques. As the main print designer at Archer, I’ve decided to share some of the main things that I take into consideration when I’m working on a print project.

Color mode

When working in print you should be working in CMYK. Make sure your document color mode is set to CMYK and that your images are in CMYK as well. RGB should only be used for something that’s going to be viewed digitally. Colors never look the same on a screen as they do on paper because the CMYK colorspace does not include all of the colors in the color spectrum that RGB includes. Colors are also often less vibrant on paper than on screen because while monitors emit light, paper absorbs light.

Bleed and crop marks

Bleeds allow you to run artwork to the edge of a page. If you’re working on print piece that has artwork or a color that runs to the edge, or off of the edge, then you're going to want to add bleed. If a bleed is not added, then any misalignment while cutting will result with the artwork not running to the edge of the paper. This ensures that when the printer cuts the piece that there is a safety net. 

The minimum amount of bleed should be around 0.125" outside your document final size, ideally 0.25". You’re going to want to make sure that once you set up the bleed, that you extend the artwork to the edges of the bleed lines. Also when you save out a pdf of your work for print, you’re going to want to make sure you have checked the box for “crop marks” and the box for “use document bleed settings”. Having the crop marks helps show where the printer should cut the piece.

Test print

Since what you see on the screen won’t always be exactly what you’ll see on the printed product, securing a printed proof is necessary so you can see what you’re going to get. Double checking a pdf is like proofreading your writing. Looking over your pdf in Acrobat or Preview is important because many times we notice something in the pdf, that we didn’t notice in the actual program.

Spot colors

Every printer is different, so if you want a certain color to print out the same, every time you use it, then you will want to turn that color into a spot color. This becomes especially important when you have a specific brand color that appears in many places. 

Paper type 

The paper type can affect the appearance of the piece. For example if the paper is uncoated, the colors may appear lighter than it would if it were glossy. This is because the color is being absorbed more by the paper than it would be if it were glossy. The texture of the paper also affects the way the light reflects, and how the color appears to the human eye. Gloss coating enables more light to be reflected which makes the colors pop.


Images for print should be at 300 DPI. The higher the DPI, the more dots that can be effectively printed across a single square inch of paper. So by using an image of 300 DPI, instead of the standard web image size of 72 DPI, the image will appear clearer and more detailed when printed. 

Designing for the web and designing for print are quite different. If you remember to keep these tips in mind for the next time you’re working on a print project, then the process should be a smooth one. You’ll avoid the disappointment of sending a project to print and having it not come out like you imagined, as well as the headache of having the printer or publication inform you that the file is incorrect and possibly missing a deadline. 

At Archer, we make sure to always keep these tips in mind when designing for our clients. Contact us today to see how we can help create your next print design!