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The Do’s and Don'ts of Print Production

Kathy Monroy

April 2, 2021

The Print Production Process

Starting a print production project can be overwhelming. Designing and building visually appealing files that print, trim, fold, and adjust as their digital counterpart portrays, is no easy task. There are so many aspects to consider, and in most cases, time is of the essence.  

Here's where, as a designer, you must understand that the phrase "what you see is what you get" will most likely not be the case. Knowing this will allow you to pay closer attention to detail and manage expectations from the beginning of the process.  

Do's and Don'ts of Print Production  

Even though there are many aspects to consider, here are a few significant do's and don'ts to consider when producing a print production process.  

Major Do's  

Attention to Detail

As mentioned, attention to detail is essential. Knowing exactly where your design will fold or where it will be cut will give you the complete overview you need to create a perfect print-ready file for your vendor.  

Communicating these specific details is also essential. Your vendor does not read minds! Create an open and transparent conversation with them to receive what you've envisioned. Even when the print project is in-house,  communication with your team members is crucial.  

Provide your client the final print-ready digital version, with comments and explanations, necessary for them to review thoroughly and approve.

Review the client brief thoroughly

Clients should have an initial meeting with you to discuss what they want and how they want it in many cases. Even though some may arrive at that meeting without knowing what they want, they will most likely have an idea. This meeting is your opportunity to come up with creative and innovative ideas to fulfill their needs.  

Listening carefully to your client's needs and even recording the conversation (with prior authorization) will allow you to fully grasp their idea and create a fantastic result that encompasses the entire initial conversation.

Grammar checks  

If your print project requires text, create it in a word document or pass it through grammar correction tools like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or WhiteSmoke. After you've curated your text, then you can safely import it to your publishing software and format it as needed.  

Avoid having to print everything again, wasting time and resources because you misspelled something on your initial design.

 

Be creative; think outside the box!

Sometimes, creating something new and exciting is scary since anything could go wrong during the execution phase. Having a well-thought-out design that considers every aspect, and gives the extra mile, is better than being safe and creating something standard. Working with textures like embossing or foiling may give you the edge you need to impress your clients and exceed their expectations.  

Let your creative juices flow! Play around with fonts, colors, and visuals without forgetting the brand's identity and what your client wants to communicate.

bulb over wooden background

Use the old pen and paper for initial drafts

Some ideas come when you least expect them. Drawing up your design on a piece of paper once it comes to your head while it's still fresh allows you to create great options on paper instead of having to design on your software.  

Having some draft drawn on paper will give you a clearer view of what you want and how it will look once printed and save you some time in the brainstorming and initial stages of the process.

 

pencil sketch of a logo

Major Don'ts

Presenting one option

Initially, having just one design option or draft for the client is not recommended. If they don't like it, they will have to settle or wait for a new design. It's best to have at least two options for them to choose from. These options don't have to be completely different since this will confuse the client and make the decision harder; some slight changes in color, font, or size will suffice.

Forget about bleed areas

Even though this should be embedded in any designers' mind, it can be forgotten due to time or focusing solely on visuals.

Bleed areas are crucial in print design since they allow some space for misalignment and enable you to be more accurate when trimming it. If you're going to work with bleed areas, the design must be printed on a larger size; if not, it will get cut off. This process may take more time, but it ensures preciseness and accuracy, a significant component to print production.

Not asking for a proof print

As the project creator, viewing the actual design and having it in your hands is a determining factor. Looking for any small mistake that could have gone unnoticed in the digital version is only possible with a proof. Even if you have a trusted vendor, it's best to look at the final product before sending it to the client.

Not Understanding the Visual System

A company's logo is a vital part of its brand. Printing it with the wrong colors or wrong dimensions will create a bad impression and lack of professionalism. You must request brand guidelines, specific colors, and fonts that will allow you to place logos in your design correctly.

Don't ignore where your design will be printed

From the brainstorming phase, you must keep in mind where your design will be printed. Some designs may look incredible on larger pieces than in smaller ones. Therefore, it's important to consider where the messaging will be displayed. Colors, fonts, and dimensions may vary depending on the dimensions of your project.  

Being creative, detail-oriented, and striving to create outstanding designs is pivotal to building great client experiences and ensuring their loyalty. But, standing out does not mean you will leave brand guidelines aside or forget about where you'll be printing those unique designs. Creating methodical processes during print production projects will provide order and ensure a great overall design for your clients.

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