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Preparing your Design for the Print Process By Max Trewhitt

Preparing your Design for the Print Process By Max Trewhitt

Print is an incredible word. It has made its mark on all aspects of our lives. It is the end of one process and the start of another, replicating finished articles and etching them into the pages of history. Its fascinating origins and immense power have given humanity the chance to communicate thoughts and ideas right across the globe, effectively clearing the path for what is now a global civilization.

But enough of print’s romantic past, are you ready for the challenge of sending your graphic designs to print? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to prepare graphic design projects for the printing process. From dos and don’ts to less obvious techniques, you’ll have all the confidence necessary to get your own print files up and running. So let’s dive into it!

Problems often encountered when printing

When you’re getting ready to send your designs off to the printer, there are a few common issues that can arise. Things like:

  • Unexpected color output
  • Low resolution
  • Pixelated images
  • Images that have disappeared
  • Inadequate bleed margins leading to white borders around artwork
  • Replaced fonts
  • Sabotaged artwork
  • Dealing with huge file sizes

In order to avoid this, you need to make sure that your design is properly prepared before sending it off. Let’s take a look at how you can do just that!

Steps into creating perfect print

Keeping color under control

The first step in preparing a design for printing is assuring that the colors you're using are correct.

The first step in preparing a design for printing is assuring that the colors you’re using are correct and the color space you’re using is compatible with the printer’s output device. If your file is using an RGB color profile, make sure it’s converted to CMYK before sending it off. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. It is a four-color printing process that uses the primary colors of pigment to create different shades and hues. In order to get accurate prints from a printer, it’s important to make sure your color space is set up correctly.

Knowing the difference between RGB and CMYK color systems is crucial to understanding the print process. This will ensure that the colors you see on the screen match those of the printer. However, using your screen as a reference is not going to guarantee 100% accuracy, and for those on-brand design projects, you may need to run test prints to get the color right.

In addition to making sure that the colors you’re using are correct, it’s also important to use Pantone (or spot) colors for logos and other special elements. This will ensure consistent color reproduction across different printing devices. Brand guidelines will often have color references such as Pantone and CMYK numbers to ensure these constraints are met. Perhaps you will create your own guidelines one day, in which case, have a look at this article on How To Pick The Right Color For Your Brand. You will be clued up in no time!

When printing is a fundamental part of your day-to-day projects, it is advised to have a physical Pantone swatch at hand as a reliable reference to colors in the real world. Pantone libraries or books are no longer freely available on Adobe’s programs. However, they are still available via a subscription. Perhaps this is something to consider when taking print seriously.

Preparing your fonts

Works carefully the fonts

Convert any text in your design to outlines. This will ensure that the fonts you use stay consistent, even if the printer doesn’t have the same typefaces installed on their machine. It also helps keep your file size down, as outlined fonts don’t need to be embedded into the document.

If you are able to provide the fonts used in your design, do so. This allows the printer operator to use precisely what you’ve used and ensures that everything is as it should be in any case where they need to change something at their end.

Check your design and clean up your artboard

Seeking out any spelling or grammar errors, as well as ensuring all of your text and graphics are properly aligned, keeping all elements at least 3mm from the edge of your artboard

Before sending your design off to the printer, you need to check everything is in order. Seeking out any spelling or grammar errors, as well as ensuring all of your text and graphics are properly aligned, keeping all elements at least 3mm from the edge of your artboard. Additionally, it’s important to clean up any extra elements on your artboard that may not be necessary. Take a look at this in-depth article on how to keep your designs clean. This will help keep the file size down and speed up the printing process.

Make sure your artwork has the correct bleed and cut marks. Bleed is when you extend any background colors or images beyond the edge of your design by roughly 3mm. This will ensure there are no white borders around the edge of your design once printed. Cut marks will indicate where the printer operator should trim off any excess paper in your design. Bleed and cut marks work hand in hand in achieving a flush finish, ensuring your final prints look exactly as intended right to the edge of the page.

Preparing your PDF for print

make sure to use the correct settings for the printer you'll be working with.

Once all the above steps are ticked off, it’s time to prepare your PDF for the printing process. This is an incredibly important step, as most printers require a PDF file for printing. When preparing your PDF, make sure to use the correct settings for the printer you’ll be working with. This will ensure that everything looks exactly as you intended once it comes out of the printer.

When creating a PDF for printing, you’ll want to use the correct presets. This includes choosing a ‘Press Quality’ or ‘High-Quality Print’ preset as well as selecting any other relevant settings such as color settings and resolution. It’s also important to make sure that all fonts are changed to outlines or embedded into the file before exporting it.

Checking compression and file types

When working on relatively small projects up to A1 size, it’s recommended that you set the resolution of your document to 300dpi in the PDF settings. Anything over and above, for example, working on billboard projects, you may need to consider working at a much lower dpi since bigger projects won’t be affected by its lack of close-up quality.

Additionally, make sure your images are saved in the correct file format. JPEGs are the most widely used file type thanks to their small file size and medium quality. However, TIFFs can hold more information at a higher file size leading to better quality.

When saving a PDF, you will have total control of the image compressions, allowing you to independently alter compression for Color Bitmap Images, Grayscale Bitmap Images, and Monochrome Bitmap Images. Getting the balance right will ensure that all of the graphics and images in your document are sharp and clear when printed out.

Preventing Illustrator editing capabilities

This is entirely optional. Preserving Illustrator editing capabilities will mean that recipients will be able to open and modify your artwork. Of course, this is welcome in some cases. However, to keep 3rd parties from altering artwork, it is advised to untick this option in the general PDF settings.

The last step before sending your design off to the printer is to run a test print. This will allow you to check for any color defects, errors, or issues that might have been missed during the design process. This is highly emphasized when printing off multiple copies or a batch. Once you’re confident that everything looks good, then go ahead and hit that print button!

Sending your print file to a 3rd party

Once you’ve got your design ready to go, it’s time to send it off to a third-party printer. Often the file will be too big to send as a standard email. However, these days, there are many different methods of sending files, such as:

  • Email (files under 20mb)
  • FTP servers
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • iCloud
  • WeTransfer

Depending on the printing service you’re working with, they may have their own preferred method of sending files. It’s always best to check with them beforehand to reassure that your file is promptly received and processed.

Many printers will require you to compress or zip up your print file before sending it off. This helps keep the file size down for easier transfer and also helps protect against any corruption during transit. Be sure to follow their instructions carefully when doing this.

When providing any fonts or other assets with your print file, make sure to include them in the zipped folder when sending it off. This helps keep everything organized and ensures that the printer has access to everything they need for successful printing.

Once all of the files have been sent, check in with the printing service to finalize the order on their end. This will ensure that they have everything they need and provide you the opportunity to address any last-minute changes and clear any questions before they begin printing.

Why it is important to count on a reliable printing company

It’s important to make sure that you’re entrusting your design with a reliable printing company. This will ensure that the quality of the final prints are up to standard and that there aren’t any unexpected delays or errors in the process. Taking the time to do your research on different printing companies can go a long way toward guaranteeing your design looks great once printed out.

One way to help make sure your design looks perfect when printed is to use a printing file review service. Professionals will check your files for any potential issues before they’re sent off to the printer. The reviewers will also provide helpful feedback and advice on how to improve the overall quality of your print files.

Sending your design to print can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these steps and using a reliable printing company, you can ensure that your design looks perfect when printed out. So take the time to do your research and make sure your file is properly prepared before sending it off. The results will speak for themselves! If you need more information or help setting up your files call today at: 516-561-1468

Large Format Substrates Every Business Should Know To Help Market Their Company

Large Format Substrates Every Business Should

        Know To Help Market Their Company


Coroplast is corrugated plastic. A good way to describe it to clients is to let them visualize a piece of cardboard made entirely out of plastic. The coroplast is available in different thicknesses. The most common ones are 4mm, 6mm, and 8mm.
Coroplast is generally used for signage such as yard signs, A-frame signs, and real estate hanging signs. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use because it’s sturdy, lightweight, and waterproof. The surface is also easy to clean.


Vinyl is a tough, flexible material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin and mesh. There are many different types of vinyl that you can use to print anything from banners to wall decals. The weight, texture, denier (thickness of the threads), and weave density is different depending on the type of vinyl.
Some of the most common types of vinyl for banner printing are:

13oz Vinyl
This type of vinyl is often used for standard indoor or outdoor vinyl banners. It can have a matte or glossy finish. The matte finish is particularly good for reducing glare.

Adhesive Vinyl
The adhesive can be permanent or removable. Always test its adhesive/removable properties first before applying it to a large area.

Perforated Vinyl
This type of vinyl has tiny holes in it that allow light to pass through. It’s perfect for window graphics because it allows passersby to see your message without considerably impacting the lighting of your store.

Mesh Scrim Vinyl
This type of vinyl allows for air to pass through, which makes this material ideal for windier outdoor areas. It’s usually printed with a backer that is peeled off before use.

Foam Board

Foam boards are amazingly lightweight for their bulky size. They work great indoors as trade show signage or displays, but we don’t recommend them for outdoor use as they can also be damaged easily. A common foam board stock that large format printers print on is 4mm foam core (approximately 0.16”).


Styrene is a light but durable plastic material. Some of the most common styrene materials are thin enough to be flexible (such as the popular 20pt styrene), so they can be rolled for storage or transportation, but don’t fold them or they’ll crack. They are waterproof and have strong scratch-resistance.


Sintra is made from PVC and is waterproof just like styrene, but the surface of Sintra boards are a little easier to scratch. It is, however, still a popular choice for smaller outdoor signage. You can also cut and scored Sintra easily.

3mm is one of the most common thicknesses of printed Sintra. At this thickness, it cannot be rolled but its lightness still makes it easy to transport.


Large format printing produces car magnets that turn an unbranded vehicle into a moving advertisement. Magnets are measured in mils (1 mil = 0.001”), with 30 mils as one of the most common thicknesses.
Make sure a magnet stays safely on a vehicle by adding rounded corners. This helps it cling to the car better. You should never use car magnets with bent corners as this increases their chances of falling off.


Canvas is a strong, coarse cloth often associated with art? Storage and transportation for canvas are easy because you can roll it or fold it lightly. It comes in different weights, thicknesses, and textures depending on the materials in the weave.
Some clients may want to wrap their canvas around a frame. In this case, you should leave approximately 1 inch for the wrap.

For More Information On Any Of These Substrates Please Call 516-561-1468 or Visit The Print Cafe of LI

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I started using the Print Café of LI about a year ago. 

They were able to meet my needs with suppling my team and customers with a variety of standard and custom bull’s-eye labels needed throughout our Business footprint.

The Print Café of LI is very reliable. When I send in my order, I receive exactly what was requested in a timely manner.

The quality of the product from Print Café of LI is top notch and meets the needs of my business.


I would highly recommend their services to anyone in need of general or custom printing products.


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The Malverne School District has had the pleasure of doing business with The Print Café for almost 10 years now.  In that time The Print Café has provided a full spectrum of marketing services to the District including the school calendar, newsletter, postcards, posters, and a multitude of special requests.  All products and services provided by The Print Café have been timely, economical, and of the highest quality.  They are professional, friendly, and easy to engage with.  The Print Café has been our marketing superstore since we began working with them.  It is without hesitation that I highly recommend The Print Café to any entity in need of an outstanding printing and marketing company.


Very respectfully,

Dr. Spiro C. Colaitis, P.E.

Assistant Superintendent for District Operations

Malverne Union Free School District

Administration Building

301 Wicks Lane, Malverne, NY 11565

I've used the Print Cafe numerous times now and they are great to work with. We've done banners, letterhead, envelopes, signs, magnets and more and it's always top quality and quick turnaround. Highly recommend!

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Alure Home Improvements 

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Franklin Square Photographers
119 Franklin Ave
Franklin Square, New York 11010
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CFO | Market Center Administrator
Keller Williams Points North
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