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Mistakes to avoid when creating print ready artwork files


Creating a print- ready layout means you will need to pay close attention to detail and have some working knowledge of the printing process. Problematic files are never intentional but these mistakes can waste time and resources. Even a simple mistake can cost needless expense to your project.

  1. Crop marks. Crop marks are a set of short thin lines that are places at each corner of the artwork layout to determine where the artwork should be trimmed after the printing process. When the printer receives the artwork they will commonly use a piece of paper that is larger than the final size and then the crop marks will be used as a guide to trim down the art to the final size. When crop marks are missing or improperly placed it can cause issues.
  2. Bleeds. The bleed is the ink coverage that goes all the way to the edge of the paper which means no area is left unprinted around the edge. If part of the artwork extends to the edge you will want to set the file up to accommodate the bleed, this means letting the design extend at least 1/8th of an inch beyond the crop marks. The extended bleed area will be trimmed. When the bleed is set up improperly part of the art work may be trimmed away.
  3. Document sizing. When submitting your artwork file you will need to consider ratios. Don’t submit an 8.5 x 11 inch file and ask to scale it to a 6 x 9 or 10 x 14. These ratios can affect the overall look of the work, cost extra time and money. When you submit your art you will want to have it be the same size as what you want to have printed.
  4. Color Sets. When submitted your art file you will want to look at what color set it is set in. Your computer screen, scanner, digital camera and some printers are set in RGB but commercial printers use a 4-color process with the colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Converting your file from RGB to CMYK can yield different colors.
  5. Image resolution. When printing documents you need 300 dpi or more for proper clarity. Images from the web are often low resolution and will print blurry. Even images that are sharp on your computer can be jagged and blurry when printed.
  6. Contrast. When working with text and background you will want to work hard to ensure the contract is sharp. A small or thin text can blend into the background easily.
  7. Margins. Add ample margins to make the piece attractive. Skimping on margins to make more room for art work can affect the overall look of the item. Most pieces are trimmed during product so you will want to pay close attention to your trim lines.
  8. Spelling and Grammar. Spelling and grammar are a huge issue and can really ruin your work. Always double check the grammar and spelling and have someone else check it as well.

By avoiding these common issues you can improve your printed work and help avoid additional printing costs.

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