The Prepress checklist

How to prepare your designs for print

Often times, unfortunately, designers assume that prepress and printing should be handled exclusively by the technicians at a print studio. This is a mistake! There are lots of things a graphic designer can do to help the print process go more smoothly to avoid issues down the line. Let’s have a look at a few of the main steps to go through before sending a design off to print.

1. Proof Reading and Spell Checking 

Consumers consider typos and grammatical errors a deciding factor when considering whether to read on or not. This is the same for web and print but as these errors can’t be updated in real time like web, it’s vital to get catch these before they go to press, because final sign off is just that, final sign off!

2. Image Size and Resolution

Double check the resolution of your imagery before printing. This means not only noting the resolution of photos in your design, but also the resolution you save your whole final artwork at. Print items should be saved at 300 DPI (dots per Inch). In general, it’s best not to enlarge photos more than 20 percent of their original size. This can change slightly for larger print formats like billboards as they are usually viewed from a distance but the imagery should be as large as possible.

3. Colour Accuracy

Some design software programs use the RGB colour mode by default. Printers, however, use the CMYK process to overlay different intensities of each tone and create the full range of colours. Colours might appear different on screen to what they are when printed. It’s best to convert images to CMYK to see a more accurate representation of what they will look like printed. A well calibrated screen can also affect the colour of the final print.

4. Issues with Black

Make sure all type is 100% black. (Cyan 0%, Magenta 0%, Yellow 0% and Black 100%). Otherwise, large areas of black can be ‘rich black’, which is Cyan 60%, Magenta 40%, Yellow 40% and Black 100%. 

5. Best Quality Paper

Last but not least is choosing paper and the right paper can make all the difference in the finish of the design once printed. Different paper types create a different feel and visual appeal than others. Spend a little time considering which type of effect you are looking to create before you start printing.

Going through prepress and looking for red flags helps you preserve the integrity of your design from concept to final print, so nothing gets lost in translation. Prepress helps you catch the little errors that become big mistakes when they find their way to the printer. The team here at Babelfís are on hand to help with any prepress queries should you need some assistance when sending us artwork.