Before you launch your big print run, here is a checklist to help you avoid some common mistakes in getting your design files ready for print. You will want to have your final files ready in high enough resolution with clear images, all necessary fonts and using CMYK colors.
1. Check Fonts
Does your printer have your typeface? Be sure to include your font in your final export of design files. Embed files in PDF files. For Illustrator EPS files, convert them to outlines.
2. Check That Files Open
What file formats are you sending over to your print shop – tiff, ai, indd or other? Make sure your files open up correctly, contain all the necessary images and pages and are in the right format.
3. Check all Graphics
Double-check all graphics and if they are referenced from your page layout, make sure the links are connected to actual images and up to date.
4. Clean Up Files
Check your files thoroughly and remove any extra colors, layers or images.
5. Use the Best Black Color Setting
Printers vary in their range of black color settings. If your documents have a significant amount of black in them, use Rich Black to prevent gray tones. If your document only consists of text and no images, just use the standard black setting.
6. Check Image Resolution
Check the image resolution. Make sure it is a minimum of 300 dpi. Do not use 72 dpi (web resolution) as that will not print out clearly.
7. Convert Colors From RGB to CMYK
Submit final files with the right color settings for print.
8. Save Your B&W Images To Grayscale
Be sure to save black and white images to grayscale in Photoshop.
9. Check Page Size Setting
Your document size must match your trim size. Check and adjust prior to sending your documents off to the printer.
10. Add Bleeds
Avoid white lines along the edge by adding a bleed to your pages usually at an 1/8th of an inch.
11. Use the Right Software
Design your documents in InDesign and image files in Photoshop and Illustrator. Avoid inserting images into Word files or using Powerpoint.
12. Create a Hard Copy Proof
Give your print shop a hard copy proof so they know the exact look you are going for. Print it out at the correct final size.
13. Add a Color Mark-Up
Create a color mark-up in addition to the hard copy with detailed notes so the printer can understand the details of the file. Add notes to a PDF if you submit it electronically.
14. Check Pre-flight Software
Use the pre-flight feature in your design software to help you gather your fonts and images and check for errors.