RGB, CMYK, DPI, JPEG, PDF, TIFF—working with print files sometimes seems like one giant bowl of alphabet soup! And whether you’ve had a longtime relationship with a commercial printer or are just starting out on this exciting journey, there’s so much to learn about the industry—and more importantly, what you can do to help make your print projects wildly successful.
Feeling a little panicky? Take a deep breath. We’re here to help—and have a little fun! First, we’ve compiled a short quiz so you can test your printing savvy. Ready?
Then, when you’re done, check out our 5 top tips for optimizing your files before sending to the printer. Some of the more nuanced details depend, of course, on the type of project you’re printing, but the tips we compiled provide a helpful base of general knowledge that can help guide you through any type of project.
5 Tips for Optimizing Your Print Files
- Ensure image resolution is at the recommended size of 300 DPI. That way, you won’t run the risk of seeing a finished printing project marred with pixelated or low-quality images.
- If you create your project in a program like Adobe Illustrator, be sure to flatten the file and save it as a PDF. You’ll reduce the file size without compromising the quality of your project, and you won’t (literally) slow the process with a bloated, overly large file. If you’re using Adobe InDesign, do two things: lock objects on the page to prevent them from accidentally shifting during pre-press; then package your files (File > Package). That way, your printer will see the document as you intended.
- Check to make sure all relevant text falls within the bleed (images, too). In addition to adhering to your printer’s preferred bleeds, you may also need to insert crop or fold marks for projects like brochures or other branding pieces. Consult with your printer to see what they require before you hit “send” on your project files.
- Use CMYK colors instead of RGB. CMYK is the optimal combination for four-color printing, while RGB should only be used for pieces that are viewed online or only in an on-screen digital format.
- Proofread! Step away from the spellcheck and use your own eagle eyes to give your project a final read-through. Grab a friend or colleague if you don’t trust your own proofing abilities. There are few things worse than eagerly opening the final printed product only to spot a glaring typo.
How did you do on the quiz? And what do you think of our tips? If you have any questions about an upcoming project, feel free to reach out to the Alphagraphics Kansas City team. And if you’d like, leave us a comment and let us know your quiz score!