Common problems to avoid when supplying artwork for printing
Posted 20th April 2017
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.
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
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?
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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