Local graphic designer's tips on how to get good print reproduction
20th October 2010
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Confused with the jargon used by graphic designers, printers and magazine production departments? CMYK, PDF, EPS, TIF, GIF? And what is meant when they ask for “bleed?”

Well don’t worry, DC-Graphics can help you get savvy on the terminology below and you will be able to speak to your graphic designer and/or printer with more confidence, satisfaction and understanding. This can only result in better quality printed marketing material for you and your business if you understand what is needed when supplying images and logos to your designer and/or printer.

Here’s my tips:

• The best graphic files for printing are EPS, TIF and JPEG. Best results are achieved if you use EPS and TIF files of any logos or images and then save the whole document as a PDF. See more tips on this below.

•Try to supply your pictures/graphics at the actual size for printing at a resolution of 300ppi (pixels per inch, sometimes called dpi, dots per inch).
Avoid using GIF or BMP files. These are low resolution files for use on websites and not ideal for print reproduction. If you only have a GIF file of an image and you have to use it, resize it and make it smaller not larger.

•Always save your final artwork as a PDF in CMYK colour format (see below). Make sure that all fonts are embedded and all images are at a resolution of 300dpi.

Hang on a minute I hear you say, just what is resolution? Well… as used in printing and publishing, resolution refers to the dots of ink or pixels that make up a picture, when it is printed on paper or shown on a screen. DPI (dots per inch) is just one measure of resolution, others are PPI (pixels per inch), SPI (samples per inch), and LPI (lines per inch). As well as colour dots there are also black dots. In black and white printing, the size of the dots and how close or far apart they are printed creates different shades of grey. The more dots that are used, the clearer the picture and therefore the larger the size of the graphic file. Resolution is measured by the number of dots in a horizontal or vertical inch. Websites only need images at 72ppi so if you download an image from a website you would need to change it to 300dpi and that will make it even smaller. Always try and get the original image to use for print reproduction as it’s a good chance it was at 300dpi originally and the web designer down-sampled it to 72ppi.

Colour - RGB or CMYK?

Your computer screen operates out of the colours Red, Green and Blue - RGB. They work together to create bright, vibrant and vivid colours. Full colour printing uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). If you are supplying any sort of artwork file created in Publisher, Photoshop or one of the common graphics packages, you must change your artwork from RGB to CMYK. Once altered to CMYK, the colours you see on your screen will seem a bit flatter and less bright, this is a  side effect necessary to make your artwork/pictures print correctly.

Adding bleed:

Bleed is a term that refers to an image that prints off the edge of a trimmed page - so if your design calls for a picture, solid or even text to extend right to the edge of the paper (the "trim"), the ink is "bleeding" off the page and you need to build a bleed margin into your artwork.

Print that has a white border or white around the edges DOES NOT bleed, but if you have images or backgrounds that you want to print right to the edge of the paper, then you must design your job larger than the final finished trimmed size. To achieve a full bleed document the printer needs to actually cut through this area of extended image/background.

How to create a bleed: Just add 3mm on all four sides of your document, in most cases this can be done by extending a picture box outside the trim marks, this will leave enough bleed area for the printer to trim in to - but if in doubt, give me a call.

Digital Photographs:

To change the print size of digital photos use a photo editing software. There will be a "Image Size," "Print Size," "Resize," or "Resample" command. When you use this command you will see that you can change print size, pixel dimensions, and resolution (PPI) enabling you to create a 300dpi image to use within your document.

Should your technical knowledge not extend this far, or you would like me to amend or tidy up your design, please ask me as this is all part of my service here at DC-Graphics.

About the Author

Doug C

Member since: 12th January 2012

DC-Graphics is me, Doug Canning, a Graphic Design and Print Specialist with over 25 years' experience. From logo design through to all forms of design and print for all sorts of marketing material - in...

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