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Common problems to avoid when supplying artwork for printing

Posted 20th April 2017

Common problems to avoid when supplying artwork for printing

There are missing images or fonts

Make sure that you are supplying all of the images and fonts required for output. This will also apply if you are producing a high-quality PDF, any images or fonts that are missing will prevent the PDF from printing correctly.

Indesign missing fonts and image warning

The fonts are not embedded in the PDF

Some fonts cannot be embedded due to licensing restrictions, ensure that you only use fonts that allow them to be embedded.

For more details about correcting font issues see Avoiding font problems in PDFs

Checking Font properties

The artwork contains RGB images

Check that all of the images in your document are CMYK. If you are supplying artwork as a high-resolution PDF then you can convert images to CMYK when saving the PDF. The recommended profile in the UK is Coated Fogra39.

For more details about converting colours see Should I convert RGB colours to CMYK?

InDesign RGB image warning

Converting RGB colours in InDesign

The artwork contains unwanted spot colours

If your document is to be printed in 4 colour then avoid using any spot colours. Either edit these colours in your DTP software or convert them to CMYK during output, as shown above.

Checking seperations in InDesign

The image resolution is too low

Ideally all colour and greyscale images should have a minimum resolution of 300ppi once they are resized. This can be checked in DTP software such as Adobe InDesign by checking the effective PPI (pixels per inch).

Checking image resolution in InDesign

The artwork does not have bleed

Check that your design extends at least 3mm on all sides to allow for trimming once printed.

For more details about incorporating bleed see A quick guide to print bleeds

Bleed added to artwork

The PDF does not have crop marks

When supplying artwork as a PDF ensure that you have selected the option to include crop marks during output. These are used as a guide for trimming the printed items to size.

Adding crop marks and bleed in InDesign

Check for overprinting blacks

Generally, you will want your blacks to overprint, especially black text. However, if there is a large area of black that overlaps another colour then it may be affected by the underlying colour and look slightly different. You can check how this looks in Acrobat or in InDesign by selecting simulate overprinting in output preview.

Viewing overprinting in Acrobat

Avoid using RGB blacks

Using a ‘rich black’ is fine but converting an RGB black to CYMK will split the colour across all four colour plates. Total ink coverage can exceed the ideal 300% which can take longer to dry. On an uncoated stock, this colour may bleed due to excessive ink coverage and fine text will look bolder and less sharp.

Total ink coverage in PDF

Spelling errors

Do not forget the all-important spellcheck, it is surprising how many designers forget this simple step. It is always worth doing one final check before supplying your artwork or creating your high resolution PDF - it could be a costly mistake otherwise!

If you are unsure about checking any of these points, then requesting a proof will give you the opportunity to check the final output before printing. Our production team will be able to advise you on the best options.

For details about sending us artwork see A simple guide to uploading files