Print Nightmares – Scary Stories from the Graphic Design World

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Yes, print is not dead but discovering a printing error on your hi-end brochure could make you wish you were. Offset printing is a technical process and leaving this to inexperienced hands could become a scary situation.Printing-Nightmares

When working with one of our recent clients, we stumbled upon a printing nightmare. The client had enlisted a freelance graphic designer to design their product logo. When the client went to print the new logo on their marketing materials, the artwork did not print correctly. After much distress, they called us to see if we could help them with this problem. After closely examining how the graphics were created (using our professional design software), we were able to see that the logo contained many unnecessary layers and hidden transparencies. In the end, we cleaned up the artwork to make the logo more output friendly.

With several horror stories under our belt, we wanted to share with you our checklist on the top 5 ways to avoid a printing nightmare:

1.     Check Your Photography – Do you want to include photos of your product or office staff in your marketing material? Don’t waste your time using your camera phone. While phone companies have increased the amount of megapixels in their built-in cameras, that doesn’t mean the pictures taken are print-ready (or worthy) for your business’s marketing collateral. Image resolution has to be very high for offset printing. If not, your photos will look pixilated or blurry. Consider hiring a professional photographer or using stock images (where appropriate).

2.      Review Your Color – When you review design comps online, you may not be seeing the exact color that will be printed. Each computer monitor has different color settings. Your logo may look red on the computer screen, but when printed it could look pink. So before you say yes to printing 1,000 brochures or mailing out 5,000 direct mail pieces, make sure you review a hard copy proof from the printer.

3.      Review Your Copy – When you send your final art files to the printer, you need to make sure you package the fonts correctly. Missing fonts will cause your text to reflow and shift in the layout. The last thing you want is for your contact number or web address to get cut off from the final printed piece.

4.      Review Your Print Order – If your marketing piece is designed with custom paper color, weight, fold or size, you need to make sure you sign off on the exact specifications you ordered. If the printer ordered A-6 envelopes for your custom 5”x7” invitation card design, you’ll have your own printing nightmare.

5.      Know Who You Are Working With – When you work with a printer or design firm you are familiar with, you are less likely to run into problems like ghosting on the press, poor plate registration, color inconsistency or untimely delivery.


If these checklist examples are things you don’t want to worry about when creating new marketing material, then enlist a team like Tribe Design to take the worry out of the whole process.

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