.. Your Daily Design Dosis

The 7 Deadly Sins of Print Production


In case of print, there are some very important things to get a professional result. Below is a list of the seven worst mistakes that you can make regarding deliveries for digital printing.

Not Including Enough Output Instructions

This is probably one of the more common problems that I see. You know how you want the finished piece to look, but don’t just assume your printer does. The printer will need to know things such as, what the finished trim size will be, how many colors the job will use, whether the job will use special printing methods like a spot varnish or a die-cut, and are there any folding instructions.

The best step to take, is to contact your printer and just ask them what kind of information they will need. The printer will be glad you took the initiative to contact them, and you will save time and money in the long run. Including a laser print of your document is a great way to show your printer what the final piece should look like. The more information you supply your printer with, the better.

Incorrect Use of Spot Colors

Nothing is worse than getting a document with 23 spot colors, all in use, and not knowing which ones should be spot and which ones are ok to run as process. It seems a lot of designers don’t realize that every spot color is a new plate, thus more money. Also, most presses can’t handle more then 6-8 colors at a time. Before a document is sent for output, all spot colors that are not needed should be deleted. A spot color should be used when absolute color consistency is needed, such as in logos, and for large fill areas. If, for example, a document is being printed with a black background and color images, the black background should be made a spot color. Making the background a spot color will keep it from shifting when the color in the images is adjusted.

Small type should also be either black or a spot color because of registration problems caused by building small type out of 4 color process.

No Bleed

Yet another big problem that I see is a lack of bleed. Bleed is when an image or another object extends outside the trim area. Having a bleed insures that there will be no unwanted white border around your printed piece when it is trimmed down. A typical bleed is 1/8 of an inch, but a larger bleed could be required for a die-cut. Ask your printer how much bleed your document will need.

Print Media Design

Low-res or RGB Images

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that the web is an excellent source for images to use for their designs. Not only are there issues of originality and legal concerns raised here, but the majority of images from the web are screen-resolution (72 dpi). A dpi of at least 300 (sometimes higher) is needed for most printed pieces. Just because it looks good on your screen, does not mean it will look good on the press. I also see a lot of images provided in RGB rather than CMYK. Files should always be converted to CMYK before they are sent to the press. Typically images are converted to CMYK early in the game, however, Andrew Kelsall makes a good argument for working in RGB and converting everything upon completion—and that’s usually how we doing things around here at Parks Design.

The main thing here is to avoid using images that have already been saved for the web. If you got it from a Google image search, chances are it won’t work for print.

Incorrect Document Size

Yet another mistake some designers make is not knowing the correct size to make the document. Depending on what the printed piece is, things like scores, wraps, grooves and hardware will need to be allowed for. It can cause a lot of extra work for the Production Artist when the document has to be resized, after-the-fact, due to a lack of planning. In some cases, the appearance of the artwork will change drastically.

Again, it is best to contact your printer when in doubt. A lot of times your printer will gladly provide you with a template to set your document up by. All you have to do is ask.

Use of Conflicting Fonts

Now, I’m not talking about using two fonts that visually clash–that’s another post, for another day. I’m talking about the font files themselves. Font problems are probably the worst problem to deal with. I can’t tell you how many times I have opened a document, that had everything else done correctly, only to get a missing font error. Most, if not all, printers use a font management system, such as Font Reserve or Suitcase, that automatically activates fonts. These font management systems cannot activate both Postscript and Truetype fonts at the same time. So, if both types of fonts are used, it will cause problems.

Dfonts are also a big problem. These are the Truetype fonts that come packaged on your computer, if you are running OS X. Dfonts can conflict with Postscript fonts of the same name, so your printer will likely not load them. When a Dfont or Truetype font is replaced with a Postscript font, there can be text reflow due to slight differences in the fonts, and the printer is left with the problem of fixing the reflow.

To avoid any font problems, and legal gray areas, you should convert all fonts to outlines before submitting your document.

Waiting Until The Last Minute

This is usually the fault of the client, but another very avoidable mistake is waiting until the very last minute to submit your design for production. There may be some cases where waiting until the last minute cannot be helped, but far too many times it comes down to a simple failure to plan.

If you know in advance that you will need something printed, then don’t put it off any longer than you have to. Allowing plenty of time for design and production will make things easier for the designer and the printer, and you will likely get better quality at a lower price.

Please don’t wait until it’s an emergency to get something finished! Your Designer will thank you, and your Printer will too.


The above article has been written from the Parksdesign Blog, the article by Josh Durham.


Author: Jan Rajtoral

Jan Rajtoral AKA Gonzo the Great is the Founder of and Designer at gonzodesign, providing design services across the full spectrum of Brand Identity, Graphic Design, Print and Advertising Design & Website Design.


on this article: “The 7 Deadly Sins of Print Production”
  1. Hi Nik,

    I too thought that free extra exposure hasn’t hurted anybody so far, especially when all the credits are given to that specific writer/article or blog?

    Thanks for backing me up tho, Cheers & Ciao ..

  2. A bit late, but having chanced upon your site and this article I find it a bit bemusing that one Design blog is citing Plagarism about an article where credit has been given to the original writers and posters blogsite!
    I thought the whole point of putting material on a blog is for as many people to see it as possible, otherwise what is the point?

  3. Hi John (or whatever your real name is),

    .. just read the comments, will ya? You’ll see that I settled this already with the writer of this article.

    You’re just a year too late or so with you comment, so stop weeping and just go back to sleep ..

  4. Yeah, It’s a really nice, plagiarized, article. Just because you live in another country doesn’t give you the right to steal other people’s content, douche.

  5. Hi QFDaniel,

    thanks for your comment, see the credits please. Cheers & Ciao ..

  6. Actually,good post. thx

  7. Hi Reseller Hosting,

    thanks for the compliment, much appreciated! These comments give me the reason to write on.

    BTW: this particular article is not written by me, see credits.

  8. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  9. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your comment, I myself do respect copyright and agree with the fact that a proper permission for posting your article would have been the best thing to do, so once again sorry for that.

    But after your first comment (#4) I thought we’d sorted this out? So I didn’t see your problem, really not.

    So I hope we’re good again and let’s just keep on posting and designing original content and/or work. Good luck,

    Cheers & Ciao …

  10. Ok, I’ll admit that I didn’t realize that I had left you a comment before. Obviously, you’ve changed your layout since then. I didn’t recognize it.

    I appreciate the proper credit being given now. So, I’ll be the bigger man and apologize for the knee jerk reaction and I’ll withdraw the comments on Twitter…this time.

    However, copyrights exist for a reason. That article has even been published in a magazine—after they asked for proper permission.

    They asked permission in a very polite and formal email message and not after the fact.

    As a designer and blogger yourself, I would expect you that you understand how this works and will ask the proper permission in the future before borrowing someone else’s content.

  11. Hi Steve,

    thanks for your comment and good text-adjustment, just to show I’m not a bad guy I’ve changed it.

    A bit sad and childish how Brain Parks is now tweeting about us (“Just remember, if your shit got ripped off it’s probably due to @gonzodesign_”), very immature his reaction.

    Also If you read the first comment from Brian, you’ll see they were not minding it? And half a year later he starts ‘crying’, very strange?

    Nevertheless I must thank Brian for the extra exposure and traffic I get now!

    Cheers & Ciao …

  12. Gonzo,

    Brian Parks has a point and a valid complaint. Most of your commenters only speak and read english. Your “credits” you give to Josh Durham and Parks Design is written in Dutch. This doesn’t really give much noticeable credit to the authors. And, judging by most of the comments on this blog, the readers still think YOU wrote it.

    So here’s the loose English translation of the much deserved credit to Josh Durham (who works with Brian Parks) with Parks Design:

    “The above article has been written from the Parksdesign Blog, the article by Josh Durham. ”

    And here is the original article: http://www.creativewhirlwind.com/the-7-deadly-sins-of-print-production/

    Hope this helps clear things up with everyone.

  13. Well, well, so sad …

    Your Quote: “We don’t mind if you republish our blog content”?

    The credits are at the end of the post, the link to the original post and even the name of the writer (what wasn’t you!) is written down.

    We discussed this so I really don’t know what’s your problem!

  14. Yeah, Nice work ripping off someone else’s work. Namely ours. I need you to take this post down. You aren’t giving proper credit and you didn’t ask permission.

  15. good work, hope you make more related posts! will keep an eye on this blog ;)

  16. Hello Micheal, Kelly, Maps & Upendraya,

    thanks you so much for your kind comments on the gonzoblog.nl

    Do visit us the next time for (hopefully) more articles about this subject?

    Ciao and cheers ….

  17. Hi, I love your work.

  18. The article is very good. Write please more

  19. Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.

  20. Hi Barry & Nicholas,

    Super-duper comments guys, thanks a lot! Ciao …

  21. thanks !! very helpful post!

  22. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

  23. Hi Pamela, Aidan, Calderon, Sebourn and Greg,

    thanks for your comments. It’s obvious that the content of this article is ‘hot’ (so once again thanks Brian!).

    I would like to draw your attention to another article on this blog about this issue: 11 Common Typography Mistakes.

    Ciao and cheers ….

  24. amazing stuff thanx :)

  25. toller artikel, muss ich gleich mal bookmarken :)

  26. is that really the case? gives me something to chew on haha
    great blog by the way! i couldnt help myself, but had to post. i usually dont write comments, but good luck please continue the good work :)

  27. Hello webmaster I like your post

  28. I really liked this post. Can I copy it to my site? Thank you in advance.

  29. Dear Luke, Tamra, Free Ebook and Sridharaya,

    thank you all for your nice comments on the gonzoblog.nl, do visit us next time for more articles about graphic & webdesign.

    Cheers …

  30. Hi, I love your work.

  31. Thank you for your help!

  32. :O So mush Info :O

  33. Your blog is so informative

  34. Hi James,
    I thought I had dissabled the blogroll-links? Never mind, thanks for your visit and comment. Cheers …

    Hi SriMathe,
    thank you so much for the compliment, do visit us the next time …! Ciao.

    Hi abarmot,
    Thanks and LOL back, cheers!

    And last but not least, Hi Белла,
    cheers & ciao ….

  35. Blogroll links aint that great :P but i am not the admin

  36. I always enjoy what you have to say, keep up the good work.

  37. Nice.

  38. Hi Groote & Olivia,

    thanks for your comments and see you next time …., ciao.

  39. Keep up the good work, I’ll be back to read more

  40. Sweet! I feel like I just dug up gold ;)

  41. Dear Johnny,

    What a enthusiastic comment, thanks man!
    Ciao amigo!

  42. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  43. Hi Michael,

    I’m glad that I could help you with this article!

    That’s the mean reason for the gonzoblog.nl to exist: – to inform you about graphic- and webdesign, to give tips and trics, etc., etc.

    See ya next time, cheers …

  44. Thank you for your help!

  45. Hi Phone Game & Knight Mayor,

    thanks for your visit and your comments, we’ll do our best to write/find more interesting articles in the future.

    Do visit us a next time, till then, ciao ….

  46. Your blog is so informative

  47. A SUPPORTED BY THE DEVELOPER TOOLS? It was interesting. You seem very knowledgeable in ypour field.

  48. Brilliant post, many thanks for the information – I don’t usually like to post on these thingy’s but enjoyed the info. Please post more usefull stuff like this, I favorited your site!

  49. Hi Карина,

    Thanks a lot for your comment! (I took the liberty of translating your comment.)

    Please could you post an english comment next time? I normally don’t allow comments in another language than English, Dutch or German.

  50. Добавил в свои избраное ваш сайт. Теперь буду вас почаще читать!
    ‘Your site added to favorites. Now I will more often read you!’

  51. Hi Egor,

    thanks for the compliments, See ya next time on the gonzoblog.nl, ciao …

  52. Nice site. Thank you.

  53. Hi Brian,

    Glad to hear you don’t mind me ‘using’ your very good content of the genuine article!

    If I use content from another blog, I always put a link to the original article and (if available) the name of the writer.

    But I’ll ask you next time …., ciao.

  54. We don’t mind if you republish our blog content, but we would appreciate it if you asked us for permission first.

    Brian Parks & Josh Durham

  55. Hey Muttertag,

    Thanks for your visit and compliment.

    Most of the articles on the gonzoblog.nl are found on other blogs, some are written by me. The link to the original article (and credits for the writer) is always at the bottom of the article.

    But we try to select and write articles that give you more ‘insight’ in the vision behind creating a good logo, brochure or website. Background info about colors, typhography, or SEO are essentual hereby.

    Keep visiting the gonzoblog.nl, … ciao!

  56. Good informations, keep up the good work.

  57. Were did you find these informations?