We get a lot of questions in regards to what should my file spec be, what should I do with X and Y, how should I do my black etc. etc. and a large majority of the time we suggest to ask the printer which is an accurate assumption. Even though I think this is an accurate answer I think we should have a question that would help educate designers on what questions they should ask the printer. Knowing the right questions can help determine if the printer is professional and if you can meet the requirements. So my question is when print designing what questions should I ask to make sure my designs are compatible and high quality for print?
At our print shop we offer a full template selection that allows designers to enter in their desired output and it will email them a template file. We did this because many questions and files we received proved to be an issue in regards to accurate bleed, trim, and non-print elements.
Registration black is 100% CMYK which is an inaccurate black and should never be used as other than registration marks and our prints vary by the printer we use.
Some shops hate
.psd files because they are horrible for storage, editing, and are raster based. Even though they are the worst file types to use for print some people can only afford or have Photoshop.
Most shops typically have the same bleed but some shops try to cut costs and can reduce the amount of bleed to save on material waste.
Knowing the stock that will be printed on (such as gloss or matte) can render different color outputs. If this is the case you can address this with the client and make the proper adjustments for accurate color.
Some print shops will limit the stock used in either black and white printing or full color printing due to costs.
Some shops would rather run a BW job in CMYK if a few interior files are in color or insert based on the quantity.
We recommend a certain
PDF/X-1a, to be exported from InDesign at our shop but this may not be the case for every shop.
Single page PDFs are customarily preferred, however some shops require printer imposed spreads in order to reproduce a multi-page publication accurately.
Good question for shops that will be printing black as CMYK or just K.
We require images for black and white printing to be converted to grey-scale but this may change based on how their black and white printing is done.
Some people would like blockquotes to be as light as possible but still visible and some use a light color with a very low opacity. We require nothing less than 20% opacity but it may change on machine.
Before a large run its better to get a sample proof then risk dropping a lot of money..
At our shop we deny any prints with Pantones but some shops can print Pantones or charge to convert to CMYK. Depending on the printer some presses are set-up to have X color runs. Knowing if they can print CMYK plus a Pantone helps if a client has a targeted color for their brand but some newer machines only offer CMYK.
Some machines offer LC and LM printing options when it comes to printing photography because it extends the customary four color CMYK process, by adding light cyan (lower case c) and light magenta (lower case m). The light cyan and light magenta inks are essentially a washed out version of the cyan and magenta inks. Reference to Wiki.
For publications with multiple pages the print provider may have a minimum gutter requirement in addition to any live area requirement. Creep can be a factor if a publication has many pages. Creep measurements and the width of the spine in perfect bound publications can only be determined by using the width of the stock to be printed on. Customarily the printer provider will be able to factor these measurements quickly and provide numbers.
This is a good question I currently ran into. After you send a print to a printer, they send you a proof, and you approve the print but the print quality and color accuracy changes if a new printer is introduced into the equation or they outsource regularly to different vendors based on availability. However, you already approved the print but they wont tell you they are changing the printer when you place a re-order.
In regards to screen printing:
What is the live area of the advertisement?
What is the color breakout? If less than 4 color, what inks (spot)?
What are the file requirements?
Should bleeds and marks be included?
All of the above in addition to...
If reproduced digitally, can live links exist in a supplied PDF?
Color space to be used?