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May 16, 201911:46 AMOpen Mic

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6 mistakes to avoid when designing for print

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Designing for printed material, big and small, has requirements that don’t apply when you are designing for the web or social media. Here are some of the common mistakes printers see when files are submitted for printing:

1. Color mode: RGB to CMYK

Printers produce color by using a four-color process: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (K). Digital screens produce images using three colors: red, green, and blue. To prepare for a printing application, RGB files and Pantone colors need to be converted to CMYK at some point. Most designers, wishing to maintain control of their color images, will do the conversion themselves and adjust the color to where they want it. Converting to CMYK should be done as the last step — whether it’s by the designer or the printer. Think of it this way — CMYK deals in pigments (i.e., inks); RGB deals with light (i.e., monitors). You have to know the requirements of your medium to know which to use.

2. Use high resolution for images

The ppi within image resolutions stands for pixels per inch. The higher the ppi, the more clear and refined your image will be. Standard printing (offset and digital) like brochures and business cards are viewed at a closer distance, so images should be sized to 300 ppi in those instances.

Wide format printers use a much larger dot during the printing process and graphics are typically intended to be viewed from a distance, so 150 ppi (at actual size) is all that’s required in wide format applications. Anything over 150 ppi creates an unnecessarily large file size and does not improve reproduction quality.

3. Convert to vector art

When designing for large format, it’s recommended to supply artwork in vector format when possible. This allows your artwork to scale to any size without losing quality.

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