Most FlyerHeroes users will read through these tips on printing flyers and think: “Duh! Obviously!”
But for many people (I’m looking at you newbie designers) sending artwork to a printing company can be a new and scary thing. To help you through I’ve put together this short article of 8 quick and easy checks before printing flyers.
Learn from my mistakes
Now, this is quite embarrassing, but I’ll explain why printing can be scary with my own flyer design and printing disaster…
One of my first-ever client jobs was to design a flyer for a local nightclub event. I didn’t know how to set up my canvas for A5, so I measured what I thought was an A5 flyer in my bedroom and went with that.
Every tutorial I’d followed on design and Photoshop so far had set the canvas to 72dpi, so I left it as I’d learned. I didn’t know you could change the RGB option either so I left that as-is too. And what the heck is CMYK anyway?
After two nights of designing my most badass piece of Photoshop work yet, I’d produced an oddly sized flyer in RGB and at 72dpi.
The client loved the artwork, but the printers bluntly rejected it… “there is nothing we can do with this”.
After back-and-forth emails with the printers, it became clear I had to do everything again.
To help other newbie designers avoid learning the hard way, let’s run through these tips:
1. Make sure your artwork is in CMYK colour format
The main differences between RGB and CMYK which you need to know are:
- CMYK is for design work which will be printed
- RGB is for design work viewed on computer screens or TVs
You’re probably quite familiar with RGB colour mode, but maybe not so much with CMYK.
RGB stands for “Red Green Blue” and is the colour format used on devices like computer screens. If you zoom all the way into a screen you’ll see that the pixels are made up of red, green and blue dots. Design work which will be viewed on computers is therefore designed using a red, green and blue (RGB) format.
CMYK stands for “Cyan Magenta Yellow Key” (Key means Black). CMYK is the colour format used for printing things. You’ve probably seen blue (cyan), pink (magenta), yellow and black (key) circles on the edge of a newspaper and wondered what it is. Those circles are the offset printer checking the calibration of its ink!
Most printing services will convert RGB files to CMYK for you, but this can result in disappointing colour changes.
To avoid this problem altogether design your flyer in CMYK colour format from the start.
All the flyer templates on FlyerHeroes come in CMYK colour format to ensure your flyers print correctly.
2. Make sure your flyers have a bleed
All 1712 flyer templates on FlyerHeroes come with bleeds to help designers avoid this mistake. (and we’re not talking about blood by the way!)
The term “bleed” refers to an extra printed area added around the edges of your flyer design. Let me explain…
Industrial printing companies don’t print your flyers one at once. They print dozens of copies alongside each other on large sheets of paper.
Once printed the large sheets are sliced up into A5-sized pieces (or whichever size you’ve chosen) by a big knife called a guillotine.
It is difficult for these massive machines to cut your artwork into perfectly sized pieces every time. To overcome this you add 3mm extra to each side of your design, thus giving the guillotine room for error.
Artwork without a “bleed” ends up with white edges when the guillotine cuts incorrectly. Artwork with a bleed will have a design extending to the edge of the page, even if the guillotine makes an error.
3. No less than 300dpi resolution
DPI refers to “dots per inch” and is the measurement used for printers and scanners. The higher the DPI, the higher the quality of the image.
Most printing companies will reject artwork which isn’t supplied at 300dpi. Images which are less than 300 dpi will look blurred and pixelated after printing.
Once something has been designed at a lower DPI, it is difficult to repair and will often mean starting over. This is especially true if you have used raster graphics.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, set up your canvas correctly from the start and set the DPI to at least 300.
All 1712 flyer templates on FlyerHeroes are high-quality 300dpi files which print beautifully!
4. Send the right format
When digitally printing a flyer, most printing services will accept your artwork in JPEG format.
You’ll need to make sure the JPEG is in CMYK and at 300dpi resolution – but we’ve already covered that.
If you’re printing a large document, using non-standard paper stock or specialist printing techniques, you may need to provide an alternative format (such as .PDF or .TIFF). It’s worth checking your chosen printer’s website for details first.
5. Proofread your artwork
As a newbie designer, I once sent artwork to print which displayed one event date on the front of the flyer and a different event date on the back. Worst of all both dates were incorrect. We ordered 50,000 flyers which all needed reprinting.
Few things feel as bad as opening a brand new shipment of flyers and having a typo stare you in the face.
It’s embarrassing, it’s unprofessional and it can be expensive.
Take 5 minutes to double-check the written information in your flyer. Ensure it matches the brief/documents your client has given you.
Sidenote: It is a standard amongst creative industries that all artwork is proofread and signed off by the client before going to print. This is to ensure that any typos and faults (and the associated costs) fall onto the client.
That said, it shouldn’t mean you can’t spend a moment to go over the work and check it too. After all, if you’re getting paid by the project doing so will actually save you time.
6. Run a test print on your office printer
It’s unlikely your office printer will be near the quality of the industrial printers. Though don’t let that discourage you from a quick printout yourself.
Printing out the flyer yourself will help you spot any issues, particularly with text. It’ll also give you a feel for how the final product will look (though don’t pay too much attention to colours if your paper and printer are cheap).
7. Choose the correct paper type and weight
When choosing to print flyers online, you’ll be hit with a variety of choices such as paper type and weight.
“Weight” refers to the density/quality of the paper stock and is measured in “gsm” (grams per square meter). The higher the gsm, the higher the quality of the paper.
The types of paper available for flyers are coated and uncoated.
Uncoated paper is regular paper – such as that used in books and newspapers. On the other hand, the coated paper has a shininess to it and is the paper you’ll often see photographs printed on.
For coated paper, you’ll have more options such as “matte”, “silk” and “gloss”. These options refer to the smoothness or texture of the gloss.
Typically for flyers, especially the bright and vibrant club flyer templates found on FlyerHeroes, you’ll want to go with a coated paper such as gloss.
Gloss added to the paper surface captures printed ink instead of it soaking (and fading) into the paper. This keeps the colours of your flyer bright and vibrant with a shiny finish.
8. If you’re unsure about anything, ask for help
Printing companies provide heaps of information to help clients ensure their projects print correctly.
If you have any doubts it’s much better to give a quick call or email to your printing company and get a helping hand. After all, you want your flyers to look the best they can!
Furthermore, if you have any questions about printing any of the templates available on FlyerHeroes, just shoot us a message via our support page and we’d love to help you out! :)
here’s a recap of our 8 checks before printing flyers:
- Make sure your artwork is in CMYK colour format
- Make sure your flyers have a bleed
- No less than 300dpi resolution
- Send the right format
- Proofread your artwork
- Run a test print on your office printer
- Choose the correct paper type and weight
- If you’re unsure about anything, ask for help
This post originally appeared on FlyerHeroes.