When you design artwork for print, standard practice is to send a PDF to your printer. But are you 100% sure you got the settings right? Are you confident the size is correct? Have the colors been set to print standards or client brand guidelines? What about font usage?
So many things can go wrong, costing you and your client money. So to help, Sigurdur Armannsson — art director at the Icelandic Ad Agency — has prepared these 16 prepress tips that cover the major aspects for correction in your artwork. By checking each tip as you go your file will be in excellent shape for sending to the printery. so today we have collected 16 prepress tips for graphic designers.
01. File the job into a tracking or accounting system
Every business needs a tracking system where information about the client and his or her jobs are filed. Systems range from high-end business software to simply using FileMaker or similar to store information. Freelancers should also use something that takes care of this. I use iBiz.
02. Use files and folders that bear the job number
Tracking systems create running numbers. You should use them for your files and folders too. The running numbers act as keys to further information about every project and client, and save you from creating new files and folders for every job. You could use abbreviations or codes for your client and then the number and a short descriptive name, e.g. ABC 12345 Brochure Spring 2010
03. Stamp the artwork
Put information inside the artwork. If the client does not object, put a short line in small type 4-4.5 pt., inside the artwork, on the back of a brochure. Include your companies name, the job number and a date. MyCompany ABC 12345 10/09. The name of the printery would be a good addition too. This will help identify the work later.
04. Make it clear who is responsible for the design
Before you start, make sure you have a design brief. What is the main purpose of the design? What are the clients motivations? Who is responsible for the job? An art director? You?
05. Proofread all text
The odd thing is that clients can be calm about minor errors in the design, like lines not being of same thickness or such. But errors in text are fatal. Use a good proofreader. If the client wants to proofread himself, be sure to have that in writing. An email is great confirmation.
06. Make the artwork the correct size
Does the design brief specify the size? Have you checked Document Setup again? Or the outmost frame in Illustrator? Is everyone using 210×297 as Width by Height? Did the client say an A4 because it looks like an A4 or is it 220×286? For ads, contact the magazine or website. They will love to hear from you. Always double check if you aren’t sure.