It is important to prepare and design your documents correctly to ensure that the final PDF will output correctly and to the best quality. This page highlights some of the main issues to be aware of when designing for print.
to print in four-colour process should be supplied in the
DeviceCMYK colour space, and contain only cyan, magenta,
yellow, and black. Any objects in RGB, calibrated RGB or
LAB must be converted before being imported into your
Area Coverage (TAC)
values should not exceed 300 per cent. This may be required
to be lower depending on the paper being printed on. This
TAC applies to pictures printed in colour - 300 per cent in
the darkest areas.
greyscale continuous-tone images should be saved at 300dpi
at a print size relevant to its final size on the page.
Bitmap images (linework) should be saved at at least
1200dpi and preferably 2400dpi. Resolutions lower than this
or images smaller than the final size on the page will lead
to a loss of quality.
should be saved as TIFFs, but JPEG compression can be used
to reduce file size. I do not recommend the use of RAW
files from digital cameras or PhotoShop .psd files as
results can be unpredictable if not properly handled.
JPEG compression is a "lossy" format where pixel
information is thrown away to reduce file size. Algorithms
rebuild the discarded data when the file is decompressed.
LZW compression within the TIFF format is a lossless
method, replacing repeating code with a tag which is
replaced when the file is decompressed.
originated in vector-based illustration software such as
Adobe Illustrator should have all fonts embedded or
outlined. The colour space should be CMYK and all
transparency must be flattened.
you place pictures in your layout application allow a
"safety margin" between the edge of the picture box and any
part of the image that is not meant to appear. This will
avoid "rebates", particularly noticeable when you place
keylines around your images.
Do not style fonts bold
and/or italic using the styling buttons in your layout
application. Always select the styled version of the font
from the font list. If this is not possible, remember that
not all fonts have bold and italic versions.Your screen
does not recognise this and will display them regardless of
whether italic or bold printer fonts exist (common examples
are symbol fonts such as Zapf Dingbats or Symbol, for which
there are no italic or bold printer fonts). With no
associated printer font, a styled screen font will output
unstyled, as the default font or not at all. Do not trust
your screen - always check that Printer fonts are available
before styling bold and/or italic
Outline and shadow text created by style menus should be
avoided. Most desktop printers will not successfully show
the final printed result, and you may get unexpected or
Thin lines, rules, medium and
small type sizes should be reproduced at 100% (solid) of only
a single colour wherever possible.
Do not use rules defined as "Hairline" in your DTP
application. Desktop printers and similar devices will not
give an accurate representation of a hairline rule on your
Keep to a minimum rule weight of 0.25pt for a solid single
Reversed 1-1 out
lettering, or knocked-out type, should be out of a minimum
of colours. Type or objects smaller than 10pt in size
should ideally be reversed out of one colour only. Small
letters reversed out of multiple colours - particularly
fonts with fine serifs - will show colour in white type
areas even with the slightest mis-registration on press.
Check to ensure that reversed-out lettering does not become
illegible due to the text's background.
If you wish to
reproduce a large solid black background I would recommend
that the black prints at 100 per cent, along with a 40 per
cent cyan tint to provide more density. This is often
referred to as a "shiner", and produces what is sometimes
called a "rich black".
The inclusion of a common colour background or strap
heading across several pages of a feature or sections of a
magazine can draw attention to the natural minor variations
in colour balance that occur across a press/presses and
during a press run. This can be minimised by creating these
common colours out of as few process colours as possible.
Give careful consideration to the use of one, or perhaps
two colours to produce the common colour. Such a colour
will enable a more consistent reproduction than the same
object defined using all four process colours. However,
certain two-colour combinations can also be prone to
unattractive colour shifts - particularly when both colour
values are midtones. Two-colour combinations where one
colour is considerably higher than the other prove more
stable, producing a more consistent, balanced result.
To assure accurate reproduction on press it is advisable to
supply a colour swatch or contract-colour proof.
Tracking occurs when ink is consumed by an area of a sheet
with a high percentage of one or more colours, creating a deficiency
of that colour within a later area running in track. This effect
is more evident on heavy tint areas running across the sheet.
To avoid the effects of tracking it is important to consider the
final imposition and design your layout accordingly.
elements will automatically overprint other colours. This
prevents normal black text knocking "holes" in tints.
Therefore, it is important that larger 100% black
page elements, such as boxes or very large point size text,
do not have variations in colour beneath them. These will
show through in the printed page. Alternatively a "shiner"
(see above) can be used to produce a heavier, more
consistent solid. If a black element is overprinting a
four-colour image, include at least 1% pf CMY in your black
to ensure the picture does not show through the black.
All page content
that runs to the edge of the page must extend off the page
by a minimum distance of 3 mm. This minimum distance is
referred to as bleed. If bleed is not applied there is a
risk of an unsightly white area appearing at the bleed
Elements that do not bleed should be a minimum distance of
5 mm from the edge of the page. This is referred to as the
margin. Elements closer to the edge than this standard risk
being trimmed off during the finishing process.
Do not attempt to place text sitting exactly on the trim -
you will almost certainly be disappointed with the finished
Consideration should be given to the binding style when
setting the margins.
For perfect-bound titles consideration should be given for
the area in the backs lost in the spine glueing.
For wire-stitched titles remember that larger paginations
cause "bulking" resulting in the centre pages of the
magazine being considerably shorter in width than the pages
at the front and back. The uneven fore-edge is trimmed away
after it is stitched. You may wish to allow a larger
fore-edge margin in such cases or a larger margin in the
backs to allow for "feathering" at the imposition stage.
Pages that read across the spine cannot be feathered so
attention must be paid to the fore-edge to avoid important
content being trimmed away.
Check with your Production Controller at Headley Brothers
for advice on how to proceed.
Particular attention must be paid to the covers of
perfect-bound magazines. The cover is glued along the spine
and attached to the first and last page of the contents and
can lose an area of around 6-8 mm in the "hinge". Check the
Downloads Page for the PDF "DPS For Covers Template" that
will guide you in dealing with this.
Paginations below 56 pages are not suitable for perfect binding.
Depending on the weight and bulk of the paper, fewer pages than this
do not produce a spine of a viable width for the perfect binding
process. Please consult your Production Controller for advice.
Elements across spreads
alignment of elements that go across a spread cannot be
guaranteed. Items that can look bad across spreads on a
final printed result are: rules; tint edges (especially
diagonals); text and lineart. If it is necessary to run a
line of text across a spread make sure the spine falls
This is even more evident in perfect-bound titles which
cannot be opened out flat. There is always a certain amount
of the page in the backs that cannot be seen. To overcome
this, pages which cross a spread should be "thrown out".
Check with your Production Controller at Headley Brothers
for advice on how this is achieved.
Ink can be
transferred through abrasive contact on press and bindery
handling systems during the manufacturing process. Matt and
silk/satin papers are particularly susceptible to ink
rubbing. Consideration can be given to this at the design
stage. Where possible avoid facing pages of heavy ink
coverage against white, unprinted pages.
Where possible avoid designs where the outside front cover
is heavily inked and the outside back cover has large areas
of white space or vice versa.
If this is unavoidable, consider a seal, which can
sometimes prevent marking.
Paper has a
tendency to expand as it absorbs moisture and shrink when
it loses moisture. In the heatset web offset process heat
is applied to the paper in order to flash off solvent and
dry the ink. After heating the paper is cooled, and a layer
of silicone emulsion is applied to "recondition" it. The
heating of the paper removes a percentage of the moisture
content which cannot be replaced in the printing process.
The width of the web will have reduced by several
millimetres when it leaves the press, which results in
about one millimetre of shrinkage per page.
In sheetfed printing the opposite occurs. Paper takes up
water in the printing process and may stretch due to water
When sheetfed covers are bound with web offset sections,
the covers are trimmed flush with the inner sections. After
the trimming the covers release moisture into the air and
the web offset sections absorb moisture from the air. The
covers may shrink slightly and the web sections will grow
and hence show a difference in size. Since the
industry-accepted best-practice is to run paper grain
parallel to the spine, web growth beyond the sheetfed cover
will normally be evident on the fore-edge.
This effect is common within the printing industry and is
most often seen when sheetfed covers are bound with web
It may be possible to minimise the impact of this effect by
careful design of the cover and page one of the content.
Speak to your Production Controller at Headley Brothers for