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How To Avoid Frequent Pitfalls Of Printing


Yes, there is a process to follow before printing. We aren’t talking about printing a paper for school or a simple body of text to deliver to your boss. We’re talking about high-quality prints on any material you desire. Our AlphaGraphics team wants to help you understand the pre-printing process to avoid the frequent pitfalls of printing.

How to Prepare an Item for Printing

Printing AreaConstruct Margins

One of the most important things to do before printing an item is to make sure that the file has margins on all sides. If you want your document to have a full bleed, then it needs at least an eighth of an inch margin (.125 inches). Sometimes, a print item requires a full bleed. What is a bleed? A bleed is when the images or content in a document flow to the edge of the page. Enlarging the image to go past the trim marks by .125” will allow for any slight movement during cutting. This area is necessary to compensate for when the piece is trimmed down. When we trim the document, we are trimming off the bleed area.

Low Resolution Printing vs. High Resolution PrintingSelect Correct Size and Aspect Ratios

Now that we’ve learned about correct margin sizes, let’s talk about correct sizing and resolution of the actual document. We recommend all documents are designed or created at the same size they will be printed. This will help you avoid so many problems! When you try to scale a small size to a large size, you will lose quality and get a pixelated image. Why does this pixelation happen? In printing there is something called DPI, or dots per inch. This refers to the output resolution of a printer or image setter. When you try to increase the size of a small document to a large document, the image is attempting to expand the DPI to cover the larger space. This is what will create a low-quality, pixelated image.

Saving PDF SettingsChoose the Correct File Type

Do the extra step and make sure your file is saved as a PDF document (click the image to see the steps for saving as PDF). Whether you’re doing your work in Microsoft Word, Adobe programs or anything else, we print from the PDF file. When we receive any printing job, we immediately convert it to a PDF if it wasn’t previously done. It is an easy way to ensure that your file looks exactly the way you want, even when it may have been designed in a different version of the program used to create it.

Save Files

All images and files should be saved at 300 DPI (dots per inch). However, it doesn’t stop there. All images within the file should also be saved at 300 DPI. In many cases, we see files that are saved at 300 DPI, but the images within are saved at 150 DPI. That’s half of what they should be saved at. This means you are losing half of the image quality! Double check your files and make sure everything is saved at 300 DPI.

Analyzing Printing With A LoopRun a Test Print

It never hurts to do a test print. Document colors can appear different once printed than they do on a screen. At AlphaGraphics, we offer a proof print before running an entire print job. If you are concerned about a single large-format print job, such as a sign, then we can do a proof of a section, instead of the entire product. We hope you better understand the printing process and what steps to take. At AlphaGraphics, we’re on your side, and we want to ensure you are completely satisfied and that your final product is of the highest quality possible. Remember, there is more to printing than simply clicking the “print” button. Let our team help you print the right way every time. Give us a call at 208.356.0170 and ask any other file setup questions you may have.

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