Though there are dozens, if not hundreds of minor issues that can prevent your print job from completing on time, most delays and/or holdups can be distilled down to a select, common set of mistakes or overlooked steps. Watching out for these common print job mistakes can ensure that your job will complete as planned, come out exactly the way you intended, and save you time, money, and headache.
Here are the Top 5 Common Mistakes Made That Can Delay or Hold Up Your Print Job
1. Missing Bleed
Missing bleed is the #1 mistake made by designers prior to sending files for print. Bleed in the printing and design world is simply the area in which ink is pulled beyond the trim marks. The bleed area is the portion that is cut away, leaving you a perfectly trimmed printed piece. An example of bleed would be a block of color or a photograph that spans across the top of a page. This block of color should extend beyond the trim marks on the top and both the right and left sides of the page so, when cut, there will be no incorrect color showing (the white of the paper, etc.). If the color does not extend beyond the trim marks, than you run the risk of having a white line on one, if not all sides of your printed piece.
2. Image Resolution
Image resolution or, more appropriately, lack of resolution is the second most common mistake made when submitting a print job. If you have ever noticed an image that looks pixelated or extremely soft, lacking a sharp, crisp look, than most likely the image resolution is too low. The optimal resolution to insure your images look their best when printed is 300dpi (dots per inch). This should be the resolution that the image must be at the size the image is placed within the document. As an example, an image placed at
4” x 5” needs to be 300 dpi at 4” x 5”. This will insure that your image is at its optimum resolution for printing.
Do NOT grab a logo or an image off your website or the internet in general as most online pictures are “optimized” at 72dpi so they will load faster in web browsers. 72 dpi is woefully inadequate for printing and the results will be hard on the eyes. One can submit higher resolution images, but beware that these will take much longer to transfer and can create storage problems due to their large file sizes.
3. RGB vs CMYK
When submitting color files that will be printed on a traditional Lithographic printing press, you must make sure that your images are supplied as CMYK not RGB.
CMYK = (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, (K)Black)
RGB = (Red, Green, Blue)
The primary reason for using for using C M YK is that your traditional printing press (also known as a lithographic printing press or more commonly called a litho press) utilize CMYK inks. RGB is more commonly used to illuminate LEDs on computer screen, allowing you to view the image and should not be used with regard to printing.
You can find out more about RGB vs CMYK by visiting University of California, San Diego: RGB vs CMYK.
There are many issues related to fonts that can hold up the progress of your printing project. Just because you can display a font on your computer screen, does not mean it can always be printed on a traditional press. If you fail to submit your project with the proper, it may result in your printer approximating the closest match and substituting as necessary. In some cases the printer may have what they believe is the same font, but when they load their version of the font the text in the file “reflows,” which will change the appearance of the final output. In many cases, this reflow may be so negligible that it can easily be missed in the proofing process and the best way to protect yourself from this issue is to utilize a feature know as “collect for output” which is built into newer versions of QuarkXPress and InDesign. When setup properly, the “collect for output” feature will collect the fonts, images and all appropriate files necessary for any prepress department to proceed without a hitch.
5. Insufficient Information
Insufficient information could easily move to the top of the list of reasons a project is held up in the printing process. It seems simple, and really, it is, but many times as we all know it is the simple things that get the least amount of attention. Here is a list of some of the most common pieces of missing information that can hold up your printing project:
- Missing the quantity to print
- No paper stock chosen
- No delivery address
- No billing information
- Missing files
- No contact information
To ensure that your project runs smoothly and does not get held up in the printing process, check your project against these Top 5 Common Mistakes Made That Can Delay or Hold Up Your Print Job and be sure your project is free from any of these common errors.