The Twelve Deadly Sins of Print

Cmyk Publishing Shows Printing And Printer Ink


  1. Failure to have a proofreader review the final document.  There is nothing worse than a glaring typo on the front cover of a publication. Sometimes the most obvious typos are the most difficult to catch.
  2. Failure to review a proof from the printer. Don’t overlook this critical step. I often catch things at the proofing stage. Clients who don’t want to take this added precaution are penny-wise and pound-foolish.
  3. Failure to print sufficient quantity and then doing a costly reprint.  This is a frequent blunder. Had the client printed just a few hundred more copies (often pennies on the dollar), they would have have saved thousand of dollars on the reprinting.
  4. Failure to deliver the printed piece on-time to an important event.  Here’s an example of probably the worst delivery possible.  The printer produced a beautiful piece but the driver failed to deliver the piece on-time to the proper address.  Unfortunately for the printer, the piece was produced for an event that included VIPs, namely a congressional delegation.  Someone really had egg on their face that day.
  5. Failure to print text in a color that is legible. This may include type reverses.  Illegible colored type may not be obvious when proofing from the screen or even from a laser print. Small text printed in a very light or bright color such as yellow, pink or beige may be a nightmare to read on the printed page. Not including enough contrast between the type and the background may also inhibit legibility. Try squinting at the type to see if it is legible from about five feet. If not, change the color. It is best to err on the side of a darker color choice.
  6. Failure to design a product that is easily printable.  It is not uncommon for inexperienced designers to create a publication that is not easily printable.  This could be due to many factors—e.g., type that is too fine or too difficult to trap in 4-color process, special effects that do not knock-out properly, RGB files which are not set up to print as CMYK, insufficient bleeds, complicated overprinting areas, crossovers of art that are not on the center spread or ink colors that are too difficult to print in a large areas (metallic inks and Reflex Blue).
  7. Failure to print fine colored type in a PMS color rather than a spot color.  First of all, fine type called out as a CMYK is too difficult to register.  Moreover, the printing plates and paper may shift ever so slightly when the job is on press.  The dot pattern which makes up CMYK printing will result in type that has a jagged edge. To achieve the best results, always print fine type in black or as a special spot PMS plate. This will ensure sharp, beautiful type that is easy to read.
  8. Failure to set up art properly in prepress. Amateur designers often do not preflight the art to check the links and the proper color call-outs. They leave out files or create layouts.  Sometimes they even create their layouts in WORD.  WORD files do not easily translate to 4-color, high resolution art that the prepress department can separate into CMYK for offset printing.  Some designers often fail to account for “live” areas where  type and critical art should not go beyond. It is always best to allow plenty of space in the gutter and on bleeds so that critical art  does not get trimmed off at the edge or fall into the fold.
  9. Failure to properly allow for folds in the publication. Often designers run photos across a fold.  This may result in “crossover” photos that do not meet up on opposite side of the fold. I have seen people’s heads getting caught in the fold or staples running through a person’s eyes. Ouch!  Crossovers occur when an image “crosses over” from one page to the next and runs over the fold. Be sure to do a folded color comp before printing and use a printer who is adept at printing crossovers.  The printer needs to ensure that the bindery will account for the crossover during the ‘ever so’ critical folding stage of production.
  10. Failure to print the piece using high-resolution photos of at least 300 dpi.  Unskilled designers often make the mistake of printing the final piece using low-res photos taken from a cell phone or images pulled directly from the web. Take the time to locate high-res photos. If not buys some stock images and alter them a bit. The result will be crisp photos and graphics that are not pixelated or blurry. Remember, “Garbage In is Garbage Out.”
  11. Failure to check page numbers on proofs from the printer.  Printing an incorrect page number or date on the piece is a common blunder, especially on long publications.  Always check all page numbers and dates when you get a proof from the printer.  You or your client may not have done this earlier. Never skip this step or you will regret it!
  12. Failure to press check a complex job such as an annual report or catalog. It is not always “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG).  Assume that most jobs will print 10-15% darker on press due to dot gain. With a press check, you can “pull-down” colors that are printing too densely. You can also look for “hickeys” and inconsistent ink coverage.  Hickeys are a printing inconsistency that result from a spec of paper, dirt or other debris attaching itself to the printing plate or blanket.  This can be seen most easily in areas where heavy ink coverage is used.

Remember it is always best to resolve these issues before a job is on press. Once a job is at the printer the costs nearly quadruple.  Don’t be a sinner!  Create successful corporate communications…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s