Print Design - Getting Print Ready

What you need to consider when sending artwork to print.

Print design

In the world of design, transitioning from digital designs to tangible print materials is a delicate art. This intricate process demands a thorough understanding of various key elements, from the nuances of image quality to the subtleties of colour representation.

Designing for print requires a keen attention to detail to ensure your designs seamlessly transition from the digital realm to physical printed materials.

Here's an in-depth look at the primary considerations:

Image Quality

Image resolution is crucial for maintaining image quality in print. Printers reproduce images using tiny dots (dots per inch or DPI), and low-resolution images can appear pixelated or blurry when printed. For the majority of printed materials, a resolution of 300 DPI is recommended to achieve clear and sharp images.

Page Bleed

Bleed pertains to the area that extends beyond the final trim size of your design. It acts as a buffer to counteract any minor discrepancies during the printing and finishing processes, preventing unsightly white edges. If design elements reach the page's edge, they should also span into the bleed area. A 3mm bleed is generally considered the industry norm. However, for editorial works, the standard may differ. If you're collaborating with a publishing house, always inquire about their print specifications, as they often outline the required page size, copy area, and bleed.

Colour Mode

Colour modes dictate how colours are represented in your design. The two primary colour modes are RGB (Red, Green, Blue) for digital displays and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) for print. Always design in the CMYK colour mode to ensure accurate colour representation in print. Convert RGB images to CMYK before finalising your design, as some colour transparency effects might not be achievable in CMYK especially in Photoshop, if this is the case, you can get around it by flattening your image and then convert it to CMYK.

Printers Proofs

Printers' proofs act as a preliminary check to catch any errors or issues in the design, layout, colours, and overall printing quality before a large number of copies are produced. They allow the printer and the client to review and approve the final product before it is mass-produced.

Changes and adjustments can be made based on the printer's proofs to ensure the final product meets the desired standards. If you're working on a project where colour accuracy is crucial, working with a design agency that provides Fogra-certified proofs can help you ensure that the final product matches your design intentions.

File Formats and Print Ready PDFs

When submitting your artwork for printing, the format is essential. The most universally accepted format is a print-ready PDF. This format ensures that all elements, including fonts, graphics, and layout, are locked in place, preventing any accidental changes during the printing process. Ensure that the PDF settings are optimised for print quality, preserving the integrity of your design. Additionally, embed all fonts and images to avoid any potential discrepancies in the final printed version.


The process of preparing artwork for print is intricate, demanding meticulous attention to various aspects, from image quality and colour representation to selecting the right file format. Ensuring that these elements are correctly addressed guarantees that the transition from digital design to tangible print is flawless.

If you're contemplating projects like multi-page brochures or large format prints, it's important to collaborate with an agency that has extensive knowledge in print. Absolute Design is a branding agency in Nottingham with over 25 years’ experience delivering branding solutions, digital strategy, and creative graphic design campaigns.


Ready to bring your digital designs to life in print?

Trust in experts with over 25 years of experience. Partner with Absolute Design, Nottingham's leading branding agency, and let's craft print materials that captivate and resonate. Get in touch today!

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