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Doing Church Graphic Design for Print? Don't Make These Mistakes

Posted by Joanna Gray



Let’s say you're getting ready to mail out the postcards for the upcoming annual women's ministry luncheon. As you are placing the postage stamp in the top right corner, you turn the card around and take a look at the photographs you decided to use to help promote the event. GASP! The pictures are a bit blurry. There is no time to get them reprinted, so you mail them out anyway, hoping nobody else will notice. When you show the designer the postcard with the fuzzy photos, they look very confused. The file gets pulled up on the computer. To your surprise, the pictures look crystal clear on the screen. How could this be?

When a non-designer tried to design something for print, they mistakenly thought that the print version would look just like the one on the computer screen. Before you let them loose on brochures, business cards, and other printed materials, here are four common mistakes they will want to avoid when it comes to doing church graphic design for print.


Overlooking Resolution

If you are designing for print, and plan to use photos and other images, it's important to take the time to understand resolution. Basically, it's a term used to describe the amount of information that an image contains. When an image is used on a computer screen, it gets measured by pixels per inch (ppi). When an image gets printed, it gets measured by dots per inch (dpi). An image on a computer screen doesn't need as much information as it needs when it gets printed. Web images are usually 72 ppi, but when the image goes to print, the resolution should be at least 300 dpi. Images that don't contain enough information will appear blurry in print.


Not Paying Attention to Color

Color is a huge part of the printing process and if you don't want to mess it up, always remember that a computer screen uses RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and the print world uses CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). CMYK indicates the four ink colors that are used in four-color printing, so when you're designing for print, always make sure your files are in CMYK mode. If you do realize in mid-design that you've been using RGB, it's not the end of the world. Just make sure you export your print-ready file as CMYK before sending it to the printer. It's also important to remember that the color or type of paper used might affect how the color looks in print. If you want to be sure of the outcome of the printed product, order a proof from the printer so you can see if the color needs to be adjusted.

Using Hard to Read Fonts

When you're doing graphic design for print, you're most likely doing it to spread some kind of information. This means you'll want your printed material to be eye-catching but, even more importantly, you'll want it to be easy to read. But since there are hundreds of fonts to choose from, coming up with the perfect font can be quite a challenge. A few of the most common fonts when it comes to print include:

  • Helvetica
  • Garamond
  • Optima
  • Rockwell
  • Lucida

Besides knowing what type of font will work best for the style of your print project, remember that type size matters. When designing something you want people to read in its entirety, the type size should be a bit smaller. If you are designing something like a flyer, where you need to catch someone's attention, be sure to increase the size of the font.

Since fonts can look different on the screen than on paper, you'll also need to consider the weight of the typeface. Just because you have bolded it on the screen, it might not appear bold enough in print. Also, fonts with super fine lines might disappear when they get printed—especially if they are over an image. One final tip: be sure to embed all fonts before sending the file off to the printer. This is especially true if you are using a unique font. If the printer does not have that font in their system, your beautiful design will end up looking like gibberish.


Not Making it Bleed

Say what? Don't worry, the bleed in this case is not anything gross. In printing, a bleed is anything that extends past the edge of a printed page. No printer can literally print to all four edges of a piece of paper. Printers print on a slightly larger sheet of paper and then cut it down. Make sure your designs follow the right templates so your image covers the areas you wantIncluding a bleed is especially important for brochures or booklets that need to be folded or bound. Printers like to have a little bit of room for error and including a bleed can enable them to work better with mechanical limitations and in instances the paper doesn't run through the printer correctly. If no bleed is used, white space may show up around the edges of your printed document. The bleed amount usually needs to be at least 1/8 inch, but make sure you ask your printing company for their specifications.


Topics: Design


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