How Not to Piss Off Your Printing Press According to Swapnil Acharya

May 30, 2017

As all designers know, printing is always a headache in Nepal due to lack of standards, old equipment, and others. Who else better to speak about this than Swapnil Acharya, co-founder of Expresiv Studios, one of Nepal’s premier UI/UX services, and himself an experienced designer who has worked with newspapers, film companies, and more.

Here are some of the tips that Swapnil shared with us about designing for print, and specifically how not to piss off your printing press!

1. Plan ahead

Check the dimensions and layout of the medium you want to print in before you start designing.

2. All print designs are to be done at 300 dpi

Except for flex where 72 dpi is fine.

3. Content is the key to designing for print

Having the full content of the project can make a difference between good and great work. Make sure to get the full content from the client before starting your work.

4. Make provision for bleed, margins, paragraph gutters, and other page attributes to gaps

Bleed is the space so that printing machines can hold the paper without tampering the print area, and margin is for functional reading.

Paragraph gutters are space around the column. And don’t forget to include paragraph indentation which is the space around the paragraph, and paragraph spacing which are the spaces between paragraphs.

Flex doesn’t need bleed whereas brochures and other small designs do.

5. Printers don’t understand RGB

For them everything is a mixture of four colors (CMYK). And anything that is to be printed out needs to be in this color format.

6. The percentage of CMYK shouldn’t be high

In most cases, a color can be achieved through a mixture of 2 colors (C and M or Y and K or M or Y, etc). As a general rule, see if all components add up to less than 300% out of possible 400%.

7. Plates print on the paper one by one

It may be possible to reproduce a color after 4 stamps from these different plates (although this is not recommended) but if you are working with small fonts, avoid using mixture colors. Just stick to black or white or Cyan or Magenta.

8. Everything starts with black

When printing for text, the CMYK colors are layered on top of one another step-by-step to achieve the black text.

9. PNG file doesn’t support CMYK

That’s pretty straightforward 🙂

10. Prepare the images to be used in your design separately

Only use processed and finished images or vectors (i.e. edit images in Photoshop and finalize vectors in Illustrator) in your final paging software (e.g. InDesign) by linking them to the paging software.

11. DPI (Dots Per Inch)

72 dpi will be enough for web based post designs and for flex as well. Only use dpi above 72 when you want to achieve high quality/wide images.

12. Convert text to vectors before printing

This is a good practice and avoids errors related to missing fonts.

13. Stick to one printing firm

Sticking to one printing firm helps achieve consistent results so avoid printing at different places as far as possible.

You can also check out Swapnil’s slides on Slideshare.

Thank you Swapnil! 🙂