Help with Printing
Here you will find the answer to many of your questions about how we print and what the various print terms mean. A good understanding of what is available can transform your printed product into a quality print .
Printing Fabric Banners
How do you print on to fabric?
Dye-sub (Dye-Sublimation) is the process of permanently applying photo standard images to fabric. Dye-Sub transfers the image into the material, not just onto the surface. This is how all our fabric products are printed. The fabric is printed with a 3.2m Dgen G5 Grande Dye-Sublimation Printer, paired with a Transomatic Fixation unit. Resolution sits at 2400dpi.
Generic Fabric Artwork Guidelines
Artwork should be supplied at 100% size and should adhere to the following guidelines:
- Ink levels up to 300%
- Images 50 – 150dpi
- All fonts converted to outlines
- Minimum 10% tints
- Do not try to colour match vector colours to rasterised colours. The rip treats these differently and there will be a visible difference in the final print. Place Vectors into Photoshop instead to create one bitmap image.
- No layered .psd files, transparency effects or vector gradients
- Save as a high-resolution PDF from InDesign – no template guides to be on final PDF. If they are on your final PDF they will be printed!
- Respect the quiet zones. Fabric stretches and shrinks (different amounts in different directions) during the production process so there is less accuracy compared to printing on paper. The templates may appear unusually large or proportioned. This is to allow for the stretch/shrinkage of the material. For best results, keep all important elements well within the quiet zone areas and do not try to match up designs from the front to the reverse.
- It’s not a leaflet. Big, bold designs are the most effective.
- The text should be as large as possible to ensure it is readable from a distance. For ‘small print’ you should not go below 24pt for dark text on a light background, and 48pt for reversed out text.
- Single-sided flags have 80-90% show through on the reverse.
- All PDF Page Boxes should be set to the correct page size (Finished Size + Bleed).
Books and Booklets
What is Stitch Fold Trim
A staple is a piece of thin wire with two short right-angled end pieces which are driven by a stapler through sheets of paper to fasten them together.
But when you are creating lots of booklets it is more efficient to use a spoil of wire which is cut automatically to the correct length to suit the size of booklet being produced, this is the Stitch. Once the stitches have been pushed through the booklet, the booklet now needs to be folded in half, creating a regular book. When folding paper, the sheet on the out side of the booklet has to travel further around the inner sheets, this leaves a booklet with sheets that are now stepped, to make them all neat and flush, the booklet is trimmed. The result is a robust, aesthetically pleasing booklet.
We believe that it is important that not only should a business card look good but also feel good as well. Therefore, having spot UV on your business card enhances the printed product and can give the card a completely different feel.
Spot UV is a thick, transparent coating of UV varnish which is cured using an ultra violet light. The UV varnish can be applied to the whole of the card but the ‘spot’ element is the process of selecting out a certain area of the design which will give the design a contrast between the smooth, shiny texture of the spot UV and the soft, flat texture of the rest of the card. This contrast is an excellent way to create a long lasting and eye-catching impact.
Firstly, you will need to plan out your artwork with your printing supplier as areas requiring Spot UV will need to be marked up clearly, this allows the printers to know where to apply the Spot UV varnish later in the printing process. The process begins when the artwork is printed, and the ink is applied to the sheets of paper from which the sheets are fed through a series of machines with the aid of rollers that allow the material to slide past while the UV varnish is smoothed over a die-cut template that ensures that only the elements of the design that requires the varnish are being coated. The sheets are then fed under an Infra Red lamp where it is set to dry, the varnish coated sheets are then fed under a UV lamp where it is further dried until it is completely dry. When the sheets are completely dry they can then be folded or guillotined ready to be sent off to the customer depending on the product being produced. Typically, Spot UV is added to a job along with a matt laminate, as it greatly enhances the smooth shininess of the Spot UV since the matt creates a striking contrast between the dull reflections being emitted and the enlightening sheen of the Spot UV varnish, resulting in an intensifying effect to the business card, small high-quality leaflets or company brochures.
The majority of printers prefer you to submit two versions of your artwork that are exactly the same size and can be provided in a single pdf file with two pages. The first version will be what you desire your design to appear like and the second version will need to be clearly marked up to show the elements of where the UV varnish is going to be applied to with a contrasting colour. Using contrasting colours to distinguish the two apart will enable the printers to pinpoint exactly where you want the varnish to be applied to. This will ensure that your order is exactly what you asked for.
Spot U.V Setup
Getting the most from Spot UV
Design with a little tolerance for mis-registration
The UV varnish is applied using a screen printing process, and registration with print can vary by ±2 mm. This means you should expect the Spot UV element to move around the page by up to ±2 mm. If you are aiming to cover a printed shape having a hard edge, then the Spot UV shape should overlap the printed edge by 2 mm to allow for any inherent variations in registration. Likewise, block shapes meeting the edge should be treated like backgrounds: bleed them to the very edge of the document page, and respect the Quiet Zone.
Don’t try to align fine detail
Spot UV is not suited to alignment with fine detail, such as small type, or shapes with thin lines. Our rule of thumb:
- avoid positive lines thinner than 1 mm, and
- avoid reversed-out lines thinner than 2 mm.
You’ll get best results when you don’t try to match the Spot UV to printed objects, and instead treat it as a design element in its own right. Separate Spot UV elements should have a minimum spacing of 2mm. Placing elements too close to each other will result in them becoming one shape and filling in.
Avoid large Spot UV areas over the edge
Avoid large solid areas of Spot UV bleeding to the edge as chipping and flaking may occur once the job has been guillotined or die-cut.
Vectors only for Spot UV
Spot UV elements must be supplied in vector format; any text shapes to be spot-varnished must be converted to paths/outlines.
Check the minimum thickness on text elements
- avoid positive lines thinner than 1 mm, and
- avoid reversed-out lines thinner than 2 mm.
That includes the counters, stroke width and serifs on fonts.
Solid varnish only; no tints
Spot UV cannot be specified as a gradient or tint, i.e. a changing tint from 100% to 0% over an area of artwork.
What is Embossing
The process known as embossing utilises two opposite etched metal dies (usually composed of copper, magnesium or brass) and heat. These elements push/raise the graphic or text above the surface of a sheet of paper to create a three-dimensional, eye-popping effect. A reversed image of the design is used to make the embossing die. If the design is indented rather than raised, it is called debossing.
You have probably seen or felt the raised surface of a notary seal; this is embossing. Items can be blind embossed, which is simply an imprint without ink or foil applied. Embossing with foil or colour on the imprint adds another visually appealing and distinctive element to your printed product
Books Perfect Binding, PUR Binding
Perfect Binding PUR
If you have bought a paperback then you have seen an example of perfect binding.
It is the application of glue to the spine of a book and the fixing of a wrap around cover. Perfect binding uses Hot-melt EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate). This is melted in a tank by a heat source, once used it is allowed to cool and solidify again, ready to be reused. PUR (Polyurethane Reactive) glue is the most durable binding glue available. Once cured, the adhesive provides a tough, pliable bond that is resistant to temperature extremes.
What is CMYK Printing?
CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black and is a commonly used colour model of four inks within colour printing.
CMYK is the colour model used for printing and is displayed on products like brochures and business cards through lithographic printing. Whereas RGB (Red, Green & Blue) is the colour model used for devices such as a computer monitors or screens as they can only be viewed with natural or produced light, and cannot be used in lithographic printing as it would have to be converted, however, some of the RGB colours especially the bright colours are lost during this conversion. While as CMYK conversions dull some of the colours. This is why most designers choose to create their own designs in CMYK to avoid any panic conversions and disappoint the customers.
The RGB colour model is based on projecting light to create colour, this is referred to as additive colour. When all three colours are combined (Red, green & blue), it creates white. This is the case for devices such as your computer and TV screens. This means that for the RGB colour model, black is the absence of all colour. When CMY (Cyan, magenta & yellow) are mixed they create black. This is the case for most printed media such as business cards, brochures, posters, etc, as CMYK displays better on paper. The pigments of CMYK are printed in small dots and if you were to take a magnifying glass to the paper, you’d see that it would mainly be just a bunch of small dots spread out across the print. Opposed to the RGB colour model, for the CMYK colour model white is the absence of all colour. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign all provide presets recommended for CMYK press setups which is very useful. You can also find out how to convert RGB to CMYK very easily with a quick internet search. In conclusion, whenever you are designing for print, make sure that it’s in the CMYK colour model. Otherwise the final printed product will not look as it did when it was being displayed in RGB on your computer screen.
This may sound like a very simple thing to solve with a quick Google search, but the actual answer has an element of the unknown to it. There are two common answers for why K stands for Black and here they are:
1. Wikipedia’s description of why K is Black is “The “K” in CMYK stands for key because in four-color printing, cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the key of the black key plate.” this is because the black plate in four-colour printing pushes the contrast and creates detail.
2. The second answer that some will give you is that it was to prevent blue being easily confused with the B for black term. This answer is considered a myth, but there is some logical reasoning behind why printers would change B to K because of the confusion between blue and black. The reasoning behind this is if the press was loaded with blue ink at the end of the day, the entire job would have to be started over. Which, as you can imagine would cause quite the frustration amongst the printers. So it could be that key was a random word picked out of no where to stop the confusion between blue and black. Maybe the real answer will never be known, but it certainly is a mystery for the printing industry.
Process Colours are created by selecting a percentage of 0 to 100% per CMYK Colour Channel, for example 75% Magenta and 25% Black (K).The ink limit is the value you get when you add these colour channels together (75m + 25k = 105%). The maximum ink percentage you can create is 400% (100% C, 100% M, 100% Y, 100% K).
Coated Papers (Silk/Gloss Flyers)300% Uncoated Papers (Letterheads/Recycled Leaflets)225%
Reverse of Scratch Cards225% 150% in large areas
Reverse of Postcards, full colour225% 150% in large areas
Large Format Printing225%
VAT on Print
VAT stands for value-added tax and is charged on most goods and services that are provided by a business within the UK as well as imported goods and services from outside of the EU. The default rate of VAT is 20%, this has been the standard rate since 4th January 2011.
Zero Rated Print.
Under ‘VAT Notice 701/10: zero-rating of books and other forms of printed matter’ zero rated items are items that do not require VAT.
Some items that are not subject to VAT are listed below:
– Books – Booklets – Brochures – Catalogues – Directories – Some leaflets and fliers – Journals – Magazines – Newsletters – Manuals (unless in a ring binder) – Maps
– Sheet Music – Newspapers – Pamphlets – Price lists (without an order form)
Standard VAT Rated Print (20%)
Items that require VAT to be paid at 20% are to be kept, publicly displayed or to be used as a business amenity.
To know whether or not the items you have quoted for are subject to VAT, then check the quote to see if it includes VAT or says that VAT will be applied where appropriate. This will mean that there will be an additional 20% added to the quoted price.
Some items that are subject to VAT are listed below:
– Acceptance cards – Business cards – Calendars – Certificates – Compliment slips – Coupons – Delivery notes – Diaries, envelopes – Folders – Forms – Invitations – Invoices – Labels – Letterheads – Postcards – Posters – Questionnaires – Stickers – Tickets
Leaflets and VAT.
Now this is where things get a bit confusing. For leaflets to be a zero rated item they must be designed to be read a few times and then thrown away, they also must be printed on limp paper of standard A4 size or A2 provided that they are printed on both sides and is folded down to A4 or smaller. So this is where it becomes complicated, the tax man does not define limp paper. We take the view that 200gsm and above would be VATable. Another requirement for leaflets to be exempt from VAT is that they should be supplied in sufficient quantity so at least 50 copies, as well as conveying information and being a stand alone item. This means that the leaflets must not be a part of a bigger job set such as a mail pack, furthermore, as soon as a leaflet is hole punched and put into a binder or folder it is instantly VATable as it is no longer a leaflet.
Bleed and Crop Marks
What is Bleed?
When you want an image to print right up to the edge of a finished page, you need bleed. Bleed provides us with something to cut in to. Without bleed there is a chance that you may finish up with the white of the paper showing. It can really spoil an otherwise great piece of artwork. Bleed is the area of the design which will be trimmed off after the job has been printed. Printing is a manufacturing operation, there will be tolerances in all aspects of the process. Therefore, we require 3mm of bleed for each of the four sides of the page; in simpler terms add 6mm to the length and width of the document. If you are working with Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, then it is simply a matter of setting bleed within the check boxes.
Photoshop and Microsoft Word do not have a bleed facility as such, we cover page setup for these in other articles. For example, the size of an A4 portrait document is 210mm x 297mm without bleed. To gain bleed we need to add 3mm on all sides: 297mm plus 3mm on the top, plus 3mm on the bottom. Same again for the width, 3mm on the right and 3mm on the left. All this results in a page size of 216 x 303mm. This Ensures there won’t be any ugly white edges showing on your finished product as there is a high likelihood of the finished product having a white strip.
When it comes to printing your job, we print on to paper that is larger than your actual design size, this enables us to print multiple items per sheet. Crop marks are small, thin lines positioned on each of the corners of the document which indicate where the paper should be trimmed. They are an essential component for any print ready artwork especially if the design will bleed. Do not be tempted to add these manually, invariably these will not be positioned with the accuracy we require and can cause more problems. If your software does not allow for the automatic placement, leave them off and just set your page with 3mm bleed all round.
The safe zone is set back from a cut edge by 5mm, it helps prevent any important part of your design being trimmed off. So keep all critical design elements away from this.
Adding crops and bleed to Canva
To apply crop marks and bleed on your design:
- Extend your design elements, that touch the page edge, slightly past the canvas.
- Click on the Download or the white down arrow button (found between the Share and Publish buttons) in the editor’s menu bar.
- Select the PDF Print file type.
- Tick on the Crop marks and bleed checkbox.
- Click Download. If your design has premium elements, you will be asked to pay for it first.
Note: Crop marks and bleed size in Canva are fixed and cannot be adjusted. They are set at 5mm. Your file will be ok to send for print.
Canva downloads all designs using the RGB color profile. When RGB is printed in CMYK, there will be colour variations. Colours can appeared washed out.
Adding crops and bleed to Microsoft Publisher
To create a bleed effect, you need to set your publication up to print on a sheet of paper that is larger than the finished publication page that you want.
1. On the Page Design tab, click Size, and then click Page Setup.
2. In the Page Setup dialog box, under Page, select the dimensions you want. To create a custom page size, enter your changes in the Width and Height boxes, and make sure to select a paper size that is larger than your finished publication page size.
3. Position your object or graphic so that it extends beyond the edges of the publication page.
4. Click File > Print, click the menu to select a printer, and then click Advanced Output Settings.
5. On the Marks and Bleeds tab, under Printer’s marks, select the Crop marks check box.
6. Under Bleeds, select both Allow bleeds and Bleed marks.
7. Print your publication.
To create the effect of a bleed in Publisher to send to a us, you need to change the paper size, move your objects or graphics to the edge of the page, and then return the paper to its the original size before sending your file to the printer.
1. On the Page Design tab, click Size, and then click Page Setup.
2. In the Page Setup dialog box, under Page, enter a new width and height that are slightly larger than the indented page size of your document. For example, for document that is 210 x 297mm (A4), enter a width of 216mm and a height of 303mm.
3. Position your object or graphic so that it extends just to the edges of the publication page.
4. Change your page size back to the original intended size, such as A4. When printed professionally, any graphics touching the edge will extend beyond your publication page.
Microsoft Word is less able, setup page size as above, now you need to set margins setting a safe area for all the important information. Graphics can be extended to the edge of the page to provide bleed when trimmed.
Microsoft Publisher is not the best option for printing with bleed. However, you can create the effect of bleed by changing the paper size, re-positioning graphics, and then sending the file to a professional printer.
Choosing paper for you Brochures
Paper stocks for Print
When placing an order for brochures with a printing company, they will ask you what paper stock you desire before they produce your product. Now I know what you are all thinking: There’s a right paper stock? Paper stock, what’s paper stock? Paper finishes? It all seems very confusing and intimidating to beginners but don’t worry I’ll explain it all to you!
Firstly I’ll start with explaining what paper stock is:
paper stock refers to the thickness of a piece of paper and is measured in gsm (grams per square meter). Therefore, the higher the gsm of the paper the heavier or thicker the paper is, the same for when the lower the gsm is the lighter or thinner the paper is. The thicker the paper is the more of a professional look it gives to your campaigns, however thick paper isn’t always suitable for every task.
To break it down a bit more here’s a few to show you what paper stock is more suitable for certain tasks:
- 35 – 55 gsm. This is thin paper which is typically used for newspapers, the thin paper is effective for lots of pages that are of low cost and that don’t need to last that long.
- 90 gsm is commonly used for magazine inners and for plans.
- 130 – 170 gsm which is your standard weight for a good quality poster.
- 170 – 300 gsm this thick paper is suitable for the majority of corporate brochures. However, if you have a large number of pages then you may need to go for thinner paper to ensure that the brochure lays flat and is not too bulky.
- 350 – 400 gsm which is thin card commonly seen being used for business cards, this is because using a light weight stock will be too flimsy and often gives the wrong impression of your business.
The next step is what type of finish you want on your brochure.
Now there are a few types of finishes you can have for your brochure;
- For more of an expensive look to your brochure ask for coated paper which can be treated to either give it a glossy or matte finish.
- If you would like to be different you can always ask for your brochure to be coated on one side.
- Untreated paper is ideal for everyday printing as it has a non-reflective surface
- Or for a high quality looking brochure have matte laminate with a bit of Spot UV to give a sophisticated look to your product.
Once you have decided on your desired paper stock and finish to your brochure, the next step is to focus on the design and shape of your
Standard Paper Sizes
- A0 – 1189 x 841mm
- A1 – 841 x 594mm
- A2 – 594 x 420mm
- A3 – 420 x 297mm
- A4 – 297 x 210mm
- A5 – 210 x 148mm
- A6 – 148 x 105mm
- A7 – 105 x 74mm
Print Ready Artwork
In order to print your artwork and produce what you are expecting, there are a few things that need to be right. All text needs to be converted to curves, When you produce a PDF, it calls on the fonts that you asked for, it does not however embed the fonts within the pdf. So if you have a font that we don’t, the print will look different to what you can see on screen. Converting to curves removes this problem, what you see is what we see.
Your computer screen uses RGB, Red, Green & Blue but when we print we use CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black. You must make sure that the colour space you are using is CMYK. RGB Pictures set in the wrong colour space will print wishy-washy, lacking punch and appearing somewhat flat.
Images should be of a high quality with no resolution issues. They should be 300dpi.
You should never stretch images so that they are no longer in proportion, it looks terrible and detracts from the message you are trying to put over. All files need to be flattened. A common problem is transparencies, Flattening will stop problems later.
Bleed and Crops
If you have images that are designed to print right to the edge of the paper, they need to have bleed. If your print goes right to the edge of the paper, we need bleed in order to trim to the correct size. Crops are small marks that show us where the edge of your print is. Again, we use this to cut to the correct size.
If your design puts a lot of ink onto the paper, our quick turnaround means that your job would not have time to dry before it is cut which may result in ink transferring from one side to the other (known as set-off). For coated papers (gloss and silk, but not bond or most other stationery papers including recycled), you can use colours made up from more than 225% but less than 300%.
Cracking and Chipping
When paper is folded, its interlinking fibres are compressed on one side and stretched on the other. If the outer fibres lose their hold on each other, we see this as ‘cracking’: an opening out of the paper on the outside. This will be more visually apparent where the design includes a dark colour across the fold. If dark colours are required please upgrade to a Laminated Product which will help to reduce the appearance of cracking. This affects any product that is creased or folded such as Folded Leaflets, Creased / Shaped Flyers and Presentation Folders.
‘Chipping’ occurs when small chips / nicks appear in the print along the trim edge. This will be more noticeable when solid / darker colours are used and bleed right to the edge of the design. To help reduce visible chipping, we recommend upgrading to a Laminated Product such as Laminated Business Cards / Flyers / Presentation Folders. However, please bear in mind that recycled and uncoated stocks are more brittle and thus more prone to both cracking and chipping than our coated stocks.
Print Design: Things to Avoid
Today’s graphics applications are incredibly sophisticated.
So much so, that some may contain features not compatible with the latest developments in printing technology. Likewise, some things can look great on screen, but not when printed. Based on our experience, we’ve prepared a list of items that we know can cause problems. So please, follow the advice below.
Hairlines are ‘device dependent’. This means that they print at different resolutions on different machines. They may print fine on your 300dpi laser printer, but will disappear on our 2400dpi plate-setter. Use 0.25pt instead.
Texture and Postscript Fills
These print erratically, it’s best to save them as a TIF or JPG instead.
Layer Effects And Transparency Effects
If you are using layer and transparency effects in your artwork then you’ll need to supply your PDF as a version 1.4 PDF, this will ensure that any layer and transparency effects are honoured. If you are saving as a version 1.3 PDF then your Transparency Flattener preset (in both InDesign® and Illustrator®) will need to be set on high resolution setting ready for printing, and then applied when creating your PDF;In Illustrator® the Raster Effects Settings will also need to be set towards vector.
Be careful with overprint settings (especially in QuarkXpress). If you set objects to overprint, they will not ‘knock-out’ the background, and will look very different to what you see on screen or proof. Black text generally defaults to overprint, (as does the 100% black swatch in some applications). This is usually OK. Please refer to your application manual for more details.
These may print in black and white, or with washed out colours – always convert to CMYK.
Avoid using borders where possible (especially on small items such as business cards), since even a half millimetre movement when guillotined could make your border look uneven and unprofessional.
Vignettes, or gradient fills are best avoided – these are difficult to print and they have a tendency to show ‘banding’ and look unprofessional. There is advice on gradients in the Help section on the Adobe website which you may find useful.
Be careful with using watermarks, if they’re too heavy it can make text or writing difficult to read. We recommend using a tint between 5%-7% for the best results. We cannot guarantee to print below 5%.
Aligning elements to folds
Avoid trying to line up design elements with folds or creases. There’s a chance they may not land perfectly on the fold or crease which can look unprofessional.
Help with your brochure
According to marketing industry influencer Krista Neher, the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words. The picture superiority effect refers to the phenomenon in which pictures and images are more likely to be remembered than words. But the images need to be suitable for your chosen promotion. Make sure your images are of a high resolution, in focus, uncluttered and convey the right meaning. The images should complement the text, conveying some of what the text contains. Where a brochure is stapled, the page count needs to be in multiples of 4.