Bleeds, safe zones, trims, oh my! When putting together a project for print, it is important to make sure the design does not only look good on the computer, but also on paper. While a custom printer will make sure your creative is ready to go before it hits the press, here are a few things you can do before you pass along your design files.

Create the Bleed (If You Need One)

Does your project need extra room around the edges? That is what is called a bleed, or a document that has images or colors that go all the way to the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim line and leaving no white margin. Bleeds ensure that there are no unprinted edges in the final trimmed document, especially when printing something such as a tri-fold brochure or a postcard. If you’re using a design program such as InDesign or Canva, there are easy tools available to create this effect.

Make Sure There is a Safe Zone

A safe zone ensures that all your design elements stay within a certain area so no text or images get cut off during the printing process. All critical content that should appear in the final printed piece must be kept inside that line. For more information, ask the printer about the specifications for your specific print project. We recommend at least ¼” of safe area around the edges and in the gutters of a folded piece.

Check the Quality of Your Images

While an image or logo might look fine on the computer, that doesn’t mean it is print quality. As a rule, TIFF, PDF and EPS files are a better choice than JPEGs or PNGs, but there are always exceptions to the rules. If you’re changing the size of the photo, be sure to use professional software such as Photoshop to ensure that you don’t degrade the integrity (or dimensions) of the image. Scans of images, downloads from web pages, or very small images will not translate well on paper.

Proofread Your Design

While this should go without saying, nothing is more important than ensuring there are no typos on your project. Try printing it out and looking at it on paper or reading every word out loud to yourself. These are two editors’ tricks that will help you catch any typos (especially if you’re reviewing your own writing). Another best practice is for every project to have a second set of eyes. Have a friend or family member review it for you before sending it to print.

Print It Out

Printing your project out on a regular printer is also a good way to test your design. While it won’t be the same quality as a professional printer, you can still make sure you like the design of the piece before sending it off. Be sure to check if there is enough color contrast in your design to guarantee the text is clearly legible. If not, try using different options in your color palette. Also important, every screen and every printer is calibrated differently, so the colors you see off of your printer and your screen may not match that of a professionally-calibrated printer.

Save the Design as the Correct File Type

About to send your design to print? Be sure the file is saved as a PDF, and not another file type such as a Word Document or Publisher File. PDFs are usually the preferred file type of professional printers but check with the company to determine what type of file they use. PDFs also help ensure the integrity of the design.

Have questions about your design, or how to make sure it’s print ready?

Target Print & Mail has a professional graphic designer on staff to help with these very issues. From printing signs, to mailers, flyers and beyond, we are here to help. Contact the Target Print & Mail team to get started.