Designing for print is a skilled job that Graphic Designers will have trained for years to master, and very different to designing for the web.  Both still creating intoxicating visual stories designed to trigger action in the reader – but both having very different technical set up behind them.

In this ‘quick read’ we explore the top 3 mistakes people make when designing for print.  So if you’re dipping your toe on your own artwork, updating artwork you’ve used before, or want to refresh your knowledge…  Read on to learn how to avoid them!

TheTop Mistakes When Designing for Print by AC Print Ltd

Mistake #1. Not saving the file correctly

The general rule of thumb here is to save your designs as CMYK (remember it also needs to be 300dpi) for print, and RGB for web.  Checking these settings are right when you save your file will save you hassle later on as your commercial printer won’t be able to print your artwork properly if it’s not supplied in the correct way.


Mistake #2. Don’t forget the oh so important bleed area

When designing for print don’t forget to add the important bleed area.  By adding this extra margin of print that extends beyond the finished size by a few millimetres, you’re allowing for inaccuracies whilst ensuring a sharp finish every single time.

If as designers for print we didn’t allow for bleed, then some of the finished print could end up with white edges.  Bleed helps ensure that this is always avoided.


Mistake #3. Using images with low resolution

The main problem when using low resolution images in your design for print is that a low resolution image will pixelate when it is printed at full size.  You might not be able to tell this on your computer screen but your printer will quickly pick up on it.

A low resolution, pixelated image completely ruins your overall design and really makes the money you’ve spent on good design and quality print, a waste.   The overall aim of your printed design is to gain your reader’s trust and inspire action – a pixelated image is the ultimate turn ‘off’ – it won’t matter a single word of what you’ve printed.

If your image isn’t high resolution enough to be used in your design, you need not panic.  High quality, impactful stock images can easily be purchased and downloaded from reputable websites to be used on your design.  Your printer / designer will be able to make recommendations to you and once the right image is agreed on, make the purchase for you.

It’s far better to consider using stock images than an image which is too low resolution to be printed properly.



Our top 3 mistakes when designing for print have been learnt through our 30+ years experience in the commercial print industry.  The key points to remember are:

  • Always save your print ready artwork files as CMYK
  • Ensure the resolution is 300dpi+
  • Check you’ve added the bleed area and that it’s set to the right size for the print job (usually 3 or 5mm)
  • Ensure your images are high resolution and if not look at stock image options

If you’re a Graphic Designer reading this, who regularly designs for print, we’d love to hear what you would add to our list?


Contact our #PrintGeeks

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0800 093 2960

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