Before you send your documents to your print broker to print, you need to make sure you have print-ready files so your final project will print properly. For this, you need to look at the trim marks, trimmed page size, bleed and safety.

The first area of the print-ready files your print broker needs to look at are the trim marks. These are marks on the page that show both the horizontal and vertical cut lines on the page. While setting up your layout, place these beyond the area you want to be visible.

With your pages trimmed, you want to be sure the final page sizes are where you intend them to be. When working with your print broker, it is a good idea to let him know the final print size in advance so he can select the appropriate paper size. This will help to make sure your final job looks just as you intended.

Thirdly, if you are using borders, images or color that extend beyond the edge of the page, you will need to have bleed marks to ensure your print-ready files turn out as professional as possible. The standard bleed is 1/8”. Otherwise, there is a chance you will have a line of white on your pages where the bleed should be. Each print job will have its own unique bleed range and you will want to speak to your printer about the requirements for these bleeds.

Finally, safety is another area you need to focus on. While you want the bleed to extend beyond the live area of a page, you need to be certain essentials fall within the safety area. The standard safety margin is .”. Anything smaller than .” may be cut off. This is the safe distance.

Since these can vary from one print job to the next, you need to speak with your print broker to make sure your print-ready files are truly ready to be sent to him. Understanding these four essential parts of printing allows you make certain your printed product turns out the way you expect it to be.

Efficiency in the Prepress Printing Stage
Prepress is the initial stage that the printing process goes through where the digital files are checked to ensure that fonts, pictures, graphics, colors, registration and any other parts of the files are set up correctly so that the actual printing will run smoothly. After verifying that the specific items are set up properly, the pages are manipulated in such a manner that they are printed, folded and bound correctly.

The expenses involved with the prepress stage would drop tremendously if many different problems could be corrected before going to prepress. Print brokers and other members of the team can work together to make the process run as smoothly as possible.

Almost all documents today contain images of some kind. Graphics are more important than ever before, and most print layouts will include some images. However, many files that reach the prepress stage will contain images with a resolution that is too low, which will be reflected in the finished product. As a reference point, three hundred dots per inch is a better target. Choosing the right image can help prevent costly delays.

Graphic designers may embed the images in the files that they send, but it is much more efficient to just include the appropriate links. Embedding images makes it that much more likely that there will be some technical or visual issue with the image, and it will be that much harder for the printing staff to correct the issue themselves.

Even small decisions can make all the difference in terms of how a given document is going to be processed. Graphic designers will often want to make certain words stand out on the page, but in this process, they should not italicize or highlight words by typing the word in the same font as the other words, and then altering it with the commands in the program. Creating highlighted or italicized words requires temporarily switching to the appropriate font that is already italic, underlined, or bold. Many graphic designers will have to alter their normal habits in order to do so, because people are much more accustomed to editing documents in that manner by relying on style commands, as opposed to switching fonts.

Many of the prepress errors can be traced to the fact that graphic designers may not be using the appropriate software for commercial printing jobs. Adobe Creative Suite works much better for commercial printing work than Microsoft Office programs. Depending on the requirements of a given document, it may not even be possible to create a document that is truly ready for the prepress stage using Microsoft Office programs.

Graphic designers should make it easy for print brokers to contact them in the event of any technical issues. Timing can be everything in the printing business, and if the staff can contact graphic designers at the right time, everyone involved can avoid missing deadlines. Good communication between different team members is easier to establish than ever before in an age of mass communication, and it can help prevent minor prepress errors from becoming major ones.