General Rules of Print Production

Spec out your job

The scope of the job will dictate many of the rules you must follow if you want to complete a successful project. This probably seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many times designs get to the final stage of completion and the file is set up totally wrong for it’s particular medium.

Here are a few common considerations:

  • How many colors is the job? Identify whether the job is a spot color, process color, or a combo of the two. Trust me, with most design taking place on the computer screen, many designers and artists don’t ever consider how the final piece will be produced or printed.
  • Who is your printer? Talk with your printer and their prepress department will be able to help you plan out the best way to set up your project from the beginning. Planning will always save a lot of headaches when the final piece is ready to print.
  • What are the dimensions? What is the final trimmed size of your piece? Are there bleeds? Folds? Make certain that you know exactly how you want the final piece to look. Create a mock-up and share it with your printer. Again, talking with your printer will save inevitable headaches down the line. They may have initially bid the job thinking it was a c-fold when it was actually an accordian fold. The ink coverage on a piece will affect how the printer chooses to imposition the job on the press. If they were planning for a piece with light ink coverage they might not worry about the direction of paper grain which can cause the paper to crack and is very noticable if there is heavy ink coverage.
  • Are you printing with lithography? Flexography? Thermography? Digital? Each of these processes require the file to be set up a little bit differently. And again, if you are uncertain about the best practices for a specific type of printing, discuss the issues with your printer, show them your artwork, and you’ll be much more likely to have a successfully printed piece.

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