Print-Ready Artwork for Document Printing
Microsoft programmes are most commonly used for generating print-ready artwork for document printing.
However they may not always generate documents which are ideal for printing.
Most documents need to be manipulated or converted into a suitable format.
Document printing can bring a whole host of problems and issues.
Preparing Print-Ready Artwork for Document Printing
1. Check page setup
This may seem obvious, but make sure your document is set up at a standard UK page size before you begin.
This is usually A4, but may be A5 or A3.
Depending on your application preferences, Word documents can default to US letter size which can cause problems when the document is printed on A4 paper.
PowerPoint’s default page size is screen size because it is designed to be used for on-screen shows.
So you will need to change this to the page size you intend to print on – in most cases standard A4.
In the rare event you want the printing to the edge of the page – you will need to add bleed and crop marks in the same way as for any other printing.
However, in most cases for reasons of cost and speed digitally printed documents come with a small white border on each edge.
It is best to have a “quiet area” so that no text or images are within 5mm of the edges of the paper – this prevents cutting text or images off during the printing process.
2. Use page breaks
This is particularly important for long documents set up in Word.
Word reformats documents automatically as it goes along, which can cause text to reflow from one page to another.
This is particularly apparent if you transport the file between different computers or different versions of Word.
This can result in problems like the pages renumbering so they no longer agree with your Contents page, or section headings appearing at the bottom of a page with no content beneath them.
This can easily be prevented by inserting page breaks where appropriate, instead of just hitting the Return key until you reach a new page.
3. Use standard fonts
It is always sensible to stick to standard fonts like Arial and Times New Roman.
These are installed on virtually every PC – so whichever PC you open your file on, the fonts will always appear the way you are expecting.
PCs can only display and print fonts which are installed on their hard drive, so if you use a special or unusual font, there is a good chance that we won’t have it installed on our computers, and we won’t be able to print it correctly.
Unfortunately, there is usually no way for us to know whether you have used a font which we don’t have – the computer will simply substitute a different one.
And we won’t know anything has gone awry until we receive your complaint.
4. Avoid using web graphics or clipart
It is highly advisable to avoid using any graphics, logos or clipart images which you have downloaded from the web.
Photos saved from a web page or sent from a digital camera need to be high-resolution when printing.
They may look fine on screen, but will look very poor when printed and should be avoided wherever possible.
This is particularly important if you are setting up a poster or any item where you want to blow up a graphic or picture so that it prints out at a large size.
The more you enlarge a graphic, the worse it’s going to look when it’s printed.
For more detailed guidance on using digital images, see the previous blog.
5. Avoid Using Borders
Borders should be avoided because they magnify any registration issues when printing.
This is especially relevant for double-sided artwork.
It is difficult to register both sides perfectly and there is often a little movement when paper travels through the press.
If you do need to add borders then it is best to check with the templates we have as guidance.
6. Save Booklets in page order
If you wish to send a booklet to print it is usually best to save in page order, including any blank pages if needed.
So the front cover is the first page of the document and the back cover is the last page of the document.
For perfect bound documents we can provide guidance on how much you need to allow for the thickness of the spine.
Contact us if you have the file saved in “printers spreads” or in any other format so we can see whether we can use it.
7. Save files as PDF (Portable Document Format)
Some of the issues above can be solved by converting your document to PDF format.
PDF is now the industry standard method for submitting artwork for printing, because it generates smaller files and, when used correctly.
It also ensures that all graphics and fonts are properly embedded so that they will print correctly no matter what computer you print them from.
Nowadays new computers often ship with a PDF writer built in, but this is not always the case.
Where this is not the case, you will need to have access to software which allows you to create PDF files – from Word, PowerPoint, or whatever program you have used to set up your document.
The most well known is Adobe Acrobat.
Most PCs have Acrobat Reader installed on them, but this does not allow you to generate PDF files – only read them.
The full version of the program is required to generate PDF files, and it isn’t free!
There are, however, some PDF writing programs available on the web which can be downloaded and installed for free, for example Cute PDF.
Mostly they work like a printer driver.
Instead of printing to your desktop printer or network printer, you select PDF as your destination printer.
Then choose your formatting options from the print dialogue box.
8. Black means black!
To avoid paying a higher cost and for better results make sure the text is 100% black.
If the black consists as a mix of CMYK colours you may be charged the full colour cost of printing and the colour will be more of a grey.
And finally, remember to call and ask for any free help and assistance in preparing your print-ready artwork for document printing.