Common Mistakes When Designing for Print

Sept 9, 2020

We’ve all seen it: the flyer whose most important fine print has been sliced off, the brochure sporting a tiny white border around the edges of its otherwise color-saturated pages. Little mistakes disrupt a message and interrupt the audience’s viewing experience. To make matters worse, they’re often reproduced hundreds or thousands of times depending on the scale of the project. However, when equipped with a knowledge of what not to do, the task of designing for small-format print in an overwhelmingly digital age becomes less daunting.

Bleeds and Quiet Borders

The issue of information gone missing and unwanted white borders appearing are different sides of the same coin. When designing for print, it’s necessary to account for what will be cut off, and what won’t. A bleed solves the little white border problem. Creating a bleed is a fancy way of saying “make this design too big for the area you’re formatting”. Essentially, your design has natural borders created by the edges of the area it is printed on, and while technology has advanced so that the cuts made to those borders are more precise than ever, they can still be as little as a millimeter off, producing a noticeable problem. Creating a bleed ensures that even if a guillotine slices your product outside the intended border, your design is not forfeited. Conversely, if the cut is made a millimeter the other way, information hanging out around too close to the edges will be sacrificed. A quiet border ensures necessary things are not being chopped away. Lying on the other side of your natural edge, it is a dead zone where no text should be placed so that in the event that the guillotine makes its incisions too close, relevant text is spared. Utilizing a bleed and a quiet border will ensure that your print concisely and thoroughly conveys the message you’re sending.

CMYK vs RGB

One of the most important yet overlooked factors to consider when formatting digital designs for print is the viewing experience that is offered on paper as opposed to that of a monitor. Printers use the CMYK color scheme (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), whereas monitors produce visible colors along the RGB (red, green, blue) spectrum. CMYK can only combine to create approximately 70% of the colors viewed in the RGB spectrum. If designed in RGB, the printed final product can be markedly different from what was generated on the monitor, and palettes which complemented each other nicely on the screen can clash post-adjustment. While modern printers will convert designs to the scheme before printing, it is still recommended that the product is designed in CMYK to begin with in order to provide a more accurate prototype prior to printing. Invest in software that allows you to design within the CMYK to avoid a post-print headache.

Proofing and Spell Checking

There’s a difference between your and you’re. Are you using it’s correctly? Grammatical errors slip past the untrained or dismissive eye, but your audience’s aren’t. Making sure to double and triple check your design before printing is paramount to conveying a cogent message. Best case scenario, the error only impedes on the perceived quality of your product– worst case a misplaced comma or misspelling gives your message an entirely new meaning. Check your design twice through, then have a third party edit to ensure your design sends the message you intend.

Lastly, source your printing from those who know it best. Having an informed and passionate team that is intent on producing quality content makes all the difference in  the process of designing for print. Delta Print Group consists of over 150 trained professionals who serve in roles from sales to formatting to production. With our vast expertise, we strive to exceed customer expectations. We are print and mail experts so you don’t have to be.