Tips and Advice

Common print layout mistakes to avoid

Sometimes the world of print layouts may seem strange and unfamiliar. Whether you’re creating business cards, postcards, wedding stationery, posters or flyers, avoiding common print blunders is easy when you know how. Here’s our run down of the top three most overlooked aspects when setting up files for print, and how you can easily avoid them.

Forgetting to add bleed

If any element on your document layout makes contact with the edge of your design you will have to use bleed. ‘Bleed’ is a printing term which means literally bleeding your colour past the edge of the document, in this case by 3mm. This extra extension of the colour is then later trimmed off the finished print so that your design doesn’t get cut into and you don’t end up with a white edge on your finished product.

InDesign and Illustrator: When creating a new document you need to add 3mm into each box under the bleed settings. If you already have a document open you can find them in File > Document Setup > Bleed and Slug. You need to input 3mm into each box to create your bleed area on the design.

Remember: when exporting the file out as a PDF, make sure you select ‘use document bleed settings’ which can be found under ‘marks and bleeds’ in your Export settings.

There are some programmes that have no bleed settings available but it is still possible to create a bleed yourself by adding the bleed size to the document size. For instance if your final image would be a business card measuring 85mm x 55mm. You would simply add 3mm to all your document sizes, making the image 91mm x 61mm which would give you the 3mm bleed area.

Remember: the 3mm bleed area will be cut off your finished print, so make sure there are no images or text in it.

For more information on bleed, click here.


Using a low resolution

One of the most common issues with files is that they may look fine on your screen but when printed they may be blurred-looking. This happens when your file has not been set up at the correct resolution or you have imported an image that is low resolution or pixelated.

The resolution and DPI determine the quality of your file. DPI stands for dots per inch so, in basic terms, the more dots per every inch of your design, the better quality your file will be. For example: 300dpi will be much better quality than 72dpi. We recommend that all designs are set up at 300dpi which will give you a high quality print.

Remember: always open up your final PDF file to check it over before sending it to print. Zoom in on the file to 100% if you can and make sure everything looks as it should before uploading it.

For more information on making print-ready PDFs, click here.

Setting up at the incorrect size

Please make sure that your design matches the size that you have ordered. We need you to send your artwork set up at the correct size and positioned as you would like it to be printed. You need to get the proportions of your design correct.

For example: if you intend to place an order for a 25x25mm sticker you need to make sure that you set your file up to match the size of your sticker. In this instance you would set up your design at 25x25mm (31x31mm including a bleed area).

Once the artwork has been set up at the correct size, we would then ask you to set up your artwork on the page positioned exactly how you would like us to print it. We would not make any amendments to your design, so please make sure it is exactly as you would like it.

You can find pre-set templates for InDesign and Illustrator on our templates page (see link below), but if you are unsure which template to download, you can choose the PDF version which can be downloaded and viewed as an on-screen guide on how to set up your files.

For guidance in amending your files to the correct size, click here.

If you have any of your own tips to share, add your own comment below as we’re sure there are plenty more out there! 

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About the author

Caitlin is our Social Media guru and lover of all things food and travel. When she's not scrolling through TikTok you'll find her meticulously planning her next adventure abroad.

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