Use a design application that is widely used in the industry which currently is Adobe Indesign. If you already use this application, skip to the next topic. It's the most popular layout design application used world wide for any project from poster to billboard design. When using other non traditional design applications such as Coral Draw or Microsoft Publisher, you'll run the risk of causing compatibility issues and in turn slow down the pre-press process. Fonts can be missing when opened on another computer or the document can print differently than you designed. Using Indesign is the way to go to remedy most printer issues.
This one is crucial to the whole process. Without having your file ready to meet your printer's deadline, it can set you back a day or two in the print schedule. Contact your printer to find their turnaround time and plan ahead to have the project ready in time.
When finalizing your document for printing, always embed your fonts or create outlines. Your printer may not have the same fonts you have used in your design or they may have some variation of the same font you used. Outlining your fonts is recommended. Outlines assures that your fonts will always look correct as the application will treat the outlines as graphics.
Always set your document up for CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) when printing. CMYK is an ink dot pattern applied to four plates which are printed on top of each other on the sheet to create the mixed colors you see on the finished piece. It can replicate any color imaginable that will pop off the page. Also when using artwork and photos, make sure they are also in the CMYK color mode before importing them into the document. Double check your color mode before sending to the printer.
A mistake that happens from time to time is having images in RGB mode in the document. When printed, the images look dull and do not pop versus what the designer saw on the monitor. This is because the three color mode of RGB has to be converted to work with the four color plates of the printer.
Trim Size and Safe Area
Trim size is the final size of the material after cutting it down to the specified size for any time of print project. Before you start your document, always check your printer's document specs so that your document is the correct size from the start. For example, our flexi size for a standard magazine is 8.25" x 10.75" so creating a new document as this size ensures that the text is not cut off and the images fit correctly.
The safe area is .25" from the documents four edges which is where you place your text and any other artwork that you do not want to be cutoff during the finishing process.
Now that your document is setup to your printer's trim size; you'll need to set the document bleed to .125" on all four sides. This ensures that the photos and artwork used will show on all the edges.
If needed, you can ask your printer to provide print proofs so that you'll know the colors and any other elements of your print project are good to go for mass printing. We use high quality large format Epson proofers to provide you with the best proof possible. Better to catch any mistakes in the proof process than after.