A quick look at the most common problems that printers encounter, contributed by printer firm NetPublications who have more than 25 years’ experience.
1/ Fonts not embedded in PDF or missing in application files
When you create a PDF file you must embed your fonts. This ensures that even if the person who opens the document does not have the font you used on their computer that they are able to view and print the file correctly. If you send application files (InDesign, Quark, etc.) we will also need the fonts to print your job correctly.
2/ Incomplete or corrupt files
Before sending, check to see if your file will open correctly and has all necessary pages, images, etc.
Via Bay Graphics
3/ Colors that are not converted from RGB to four-color CMYK mode
You might design in RGB, proof in RGB, preview in RGB, however, we print in CMYK format. It is very rare that a computer monitor will accurately display the colors chosen in your layout. Your images may print in black and white or with inaccurate color if you neglect to convert images.
4/ Inadequate bleeds
A bleed is any area on a printed sheet where ink extends to the cut edge. One problem of inadequate bleeds is that an image that you expect to extend to the edge will show a tiny white line on the trimmed edge. It leads to an unpolished, unfinished look that you want to avoid. We require at least 1/8 (.1250) bleed.
5/ Placed images resolution too low or too high (always use 300 dpi)
A scan resolution that is too low results in a low quality image. A resolution that is too high increases the file size and printing time, without increasing the image quality. Images downloaded from the internet do not print clearly (the resolution is too low — 72-100 dpi).
6/ Black and white images saved in RGB or CMYK instead of grayscale
They will print with some color if not saved as grayscale.
7/ Images delivered in the wrong file format (JPG, PNG, GIF)
Use TIFF or PSD (Photoshop). JPG, PNG, and GIF are great for photographic images on the web, because they compress the file, making the file smaller in size for faster downloading). Not ideal for printing, because every time you save it, you lose more color and detail. TIFF and PSD are best for printing without loss of color or detail.
8/ Missing images in applications
Will either print blank or a low resolution image in its place.
9/ Wrong applications used for complex page layouts
Use publishing programs like InDesign or Quark. MS Word is great for word processing at your desk, when you can print to your printer, but software limitations make it difficult to do proper, efficient layout. Any MS Word files presented for offset printing will have to be converted to PDF. MS PowerPoint is useful for creating slides for a presentation, but limitations prevent this from being an efficient layout program. Any PowerPoint files presented for offset printing will have to be converted to PDF.
10/ Not supplying a hard copy proof
This helps us to spot potential problems. Please supply final color or black and white laser printouts with your digital files. Printouts should be at actual size (100%). If the image area in the page file exceeds the size of a laser or inkjet print, output the laser at a reduced percentage, but clearly note the amount of reduction.
Print prep resources
- 12 money-saving questions to ask before printing (here on davidairey.com — the reader comments add value)
- Design guide for print (another from the archives, with a few basic print terms explained)
- Preparing your files for printing (a decent overview from Gregg Stalter on Photoshop Cafe)
- The designer’s prep, print and proof checklist (Chuck Green does a good job of explaining how you’re in control of the printing process)