I'd like to do something a little different tonight. I'd like to share with you the experience I have gained as a student and graphic designer. Now I don't do much in the way in graphic design or printing, but I have learned a lot on the subject of printing along the way. This doesn't cover everything to do with printing, but it will help you out when you go to print anything.
1. Why Go To A Printing Company?
Your home inkjet printer uses water-based ink while a printing company uses oil-based inks on their laser printers. My home-made wedding invitations smeared when they got wet! Not all inks are this bad, but if there is a chance that your manuscript or artwork might smear is it really worth the risk? Another problem is that your artwork is more likely to fade with an inkjet printer. A high quality inkjet (I love Epson’s printers myself) may give you a prettier print, but overall using a printing company is best for prints.
It’s actually cheaper going to a printing company for printing than using inkjet ink! You should have a home inkjet (lasers are expensive) printer for drafts and quick prints, but you will pay less for a prints at a printing company. Printing companies generally lease their equipment, so they not only likely have a newer printer but their printer has the ability to do higher quality prints than a home printer can.
Where You Should Do Your Printing?
Where you should get your printing done depends on what you want printed. If you are just making copies of your manuscript you can go anywhere that has a copier. If you are loyal (and friendly) to a local printer you are more likely to get discounts on your printing in the future. They may also give you discounts on website design!
If you are do any other printing use a local printing company that’s dedicated solely to printing. Companies like Kinkos, Staples, Office Depot and UPS may not have someone who is knowledgeable in graphics or printing. These places have Copy Centers, but their focus isn't printing. Some places will print business cards on pre-punched paper, so they don’t have to use a cutter to cut your cards. The result? Bumpy edges, and an overall unprofessional look for your business cards.
How to Get The Best Results From Your Prints
You may want to bring your artwork to the printer for scanning. This way if your digital file is bad, you can easily have it scanned. If you can help it don’t leave your original artwork at the printers because there is a chance it could be damaged. If you do bring (or email) a digital copy be sure to scan it into your computer at a minimum of 300dpi! Anything smaller is going to give you a terrible print. Scanned slides are really the best way to go, but who makes slides these days?
Don’t use Microsoft Word to create anything. If it’s not a text document to be printed it doesn’t belong in Word. I worked for a printing company for two years and I found that it is extremely difficult to make a print from Microsoft Word. It is more difficult to change (and for you to create) Word documents. Overall you might pay more for a document made in Word than if you let the printer’s graphic designer create it themselves. You can create documents in Word, but be aware that the graphic designer may just ask for your files your project can be recreated.
Be aware of bleeds and cutting! Bleeds are used when an image or colour ends at the edge of a document. If you are creating an image/colour that goes to the edge of your artwork, then you need to add (or bleed) an extra ¼” of the image/colour over the edge of the document. Anything bigger than the actual document size will be trimmed off. Also, make sure that you give at least 1/8” - ¼” room between your text/image and the edge of your document.
I hope this helps you with your next printing job, and if you have any questions feel free to email me at daniduckart(@)gmail.com just remember to remove the brackets.