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How to avoid Print Design Mistakes
"Quality is Never an Accident!"

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Print Design Mistakes."

5 Print Design Mistakes You MUST Avoid

Print Design Mistakes
and how to avoid them

Many graphic designers are self-taught, and while self-educated designers can prove to craft outstanding work, it can be very easy to jump into concepts such as space and theory while missing some of the basic technical aspects of design. Moreover, many self-taught designers can learn primarily on the web and for the web, which can lead to a lack of understanding of print best practices.

The last thing you want to do is mess up a big job because you've never designed for print, which is why you should pay close attention to the following five print design mistakes you must avoid.

1. Wrong color system/model

On the web, almost all colors you work with are going to be in RGB (red, green, blue or RGB - 0,0,0) and web hex values (#000000), which is also RGB. But when you're designing for print, the primary options available are CMYK (process) and Pantone (spot). The Pantone color system uses a set of pre-designed colors that are mixed before printing, and is suitable for designs that feature just a few colors – letterhead logos, for example. CMYK is a system that dynamically mixes four colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) in percentages to match the design.

Think of it this way. If you want to color an image green with crayons, you could either use a green crayon (Pantone) or mix yellow and blue (CMYK). Either way, it's important to select the proper color system for your print project, or your colors will not be properly represented on the final printed piece.

2. Forgetting about bleeds

When you design for web, your finished image or graphic begins and ends at its border. Not so with print, which typically incorporates bleeds so you get edge-to-edge printing. This essentially means that your design will “bleed over” beyond the point at which your final design will be cut.

It's a good idea to ask your printing company for a print template before you start designing. Or, you can make your own. Either way, your template will show you a) where the “safe area” is and where the “cut line” is so you can ensure important parts of your design aren't cut off.

3. Wrong resolution

This one is simple, but be sure to never overlook it: make sure your print design is in the proper resolution. On the web it's safe to stick with a resolution of 72dpi, but when it comes to print you'll probably need 300dpi or better. Keep in mind that images and graphics that look good at 72dpi will look terrible at 300dpi, so don't create your design at the wrong resolution with the intent of resizing it later. Start with the right resolution, and you'll know how your images and graphics look before you go to print.

4. Forgetting size

If you're not mindful of your final print size, you're setting yourself up for mistakes. A business card that looks great on the screen might be too hard to read in print, for example, or a poster that looks great on the screen might have text that appears too large and gaudy in print. Always print your design in its final size before sending it to print, and request a hardcopy proof whenever possible. Paying a few extra bucks for a hardcopy proof can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road.

5. Dark design

Computer screens are backlight. They're bright, and yet their brightnesses vary by screen and setting. There is no control that allows you to properly synch your screen with print or with paper color and stock finish. The result is that a design that looks brilliant on your computer screen might appear dim and dark in print. That's the problem with electronic proofs; they might be free, but they do not accurately represent precisely what your printed piece will look like. Be sure to account for the fact that paper is darker than the screen, and – again – always get a hardcopy proof to make sure your final printed piece looks perfect.

What other print design mistakes must be avoided? Please comment below. TIP - Use FlightCheck to help find design mistakes before going to print.

Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. http://www.psprint.com/ is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.

5 Print Design Mistakes You MUST Avoid!

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