5 Steps to Preparing Your Files for Commercial Printing
Commercial printing has many advantages over desktop printing. Many people choose to go with the professionals because they want an expanded range of options. Still others want the crisp, high quality that commercial printing can produce. Regardless of where you choose to get commercial printing services in Baltimore & Washington, the following steps will help you prepare your files so you can get the best possible result.
1. Discuss the project with your printer.
Every printer has different limitations and equipment. Printing companies also have different strong points. The best way to make sure you max out the benefits is to clearly communicate your preferences and to listen to what your printer recommends.
2. Make big design decisions early.
The big decisions will have a huge impact not just on price but on design. The two largest decisions in most print jobs are size and color (or lack thereof). Beautiful prints can be made in black and white, a single color, or a rainbow, but it is important to design with this limitation in mind. Similarly you should plan while knowing your desired size rather than just scaling an existing design to what you can afford.
3. Think twice before choosing synthetic fonts.
This is a complicated topic that has compromised many professional printing jobs. Typefaces are similar to fonts in that they are the form that your letters will take. Most fonts also have a corresponding typeface. For example, Times New Roman and Comic Sans were both typefaces long before they were ever seen on a computer screen.
However, a key difference between typefaces and fonts is that a different typeface is needed for bold and italic versions of any given print. Thus, the font Times New Roman is actually four different typefaces: the standard font, bold, italic, and bold italic.
Some typefaces do not have a bold or italic version. They can be bolded or slanted to the right on a computer screen but cannot be printed this way by most printing companies. These bold and italicized versions are called “synthetic fonts” because they don’t exist in typeface.
It is important not to use any synthetic fonts in your printing job because they likely are not supported. Talk to your printing company if you have any questions about which fonts are supported.
4. Match your photo resolution to your print resolution.
Pictures on a screen or printed by a printer are made up of colored dots. The amount of these colored dots, called ppi (pixels per inch) or DPI (dots per inch) determine the resolution of an image. These terms are usually used interchangeably in the printing world.
Your printer can only produce work up to a certain resolution, depending on the dots per inch that their equipment allows. Your graphic programs, scanner, or camera also have a maximum capacity. The resolution in dpi or ppi will determine how much detail an image has and how crisp the images appear.
It is crucial that the dpi/ppi of your images roughly match that of your print job. If the image has lower resolution, it will appear blurry and blocky. If the image has higher reolution, it will take longer to open and be printed without any improvement in quality.
Most commercial printers use 200-300 ppi in a standard printing job. Your print jobs should not be less than this, although they can have 2-3 times the resolution without slowing down the printing process.
5. Perform a test run.
The way a file looks on a computer screen may differ greatly from how it looks on paper. In order to ensure that you are completely happy with your printing, you should do a test run. Print out a single copy on your home printer or elsewhere and look at it with a critical eye. If there are any necessary changes, you can make them before investing in hundreds of copies.