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Topics: Design File Preparation printing

Why are some of my photos blurry?

Brian Coale

It's happened to all of us at one time or another. You design something, it looks great on your screen, you get it back from your printer and... ugh! Your beautiful design has blurry, jagged-looking photos. What happened? More importantly, how do you make it NOT happen? In this article I'll walk you through the science of how image resolution works in print and on-screen to answer both of those questions. So you'll understand why your photos are blurry and learn how to prevent it from happening to you again. Let's dig in.

Topics: File Preparation

5 Tips for Creating Quality PDFs from InDesign

Brian Coale

(Image courtesy of dream-wallpaper.com)


I still remember the first time I sent a file to a commercial printer. I was a fledgling designer building my first magazine layout for a professional architecture magazine. I toiled and sweated over that issue, and when I thought it was ready, I couldn't be more proud of my creation. This was the masterpiece that was to kick my career into high gear. Then I sent the files to the printer, and what happened next made me feel like a 1st-year rookie (which I was): The printer rejected the files. Hairline strokes, embedded images, inconsistent margins,  and missing fonts were just a few of the culprits, and I really can't remember all of the rest. The bottom line: Creating flawless press files for your printer can be a technically daunting and difficult task.

Luckily, the software used by both printers and designers has improved greatly in the past decade, and it is much more forgiving. Nonetheless, there are still steps you can take to minimize costly and time-wasting headaches for both you and your printer.

Topics: File Preparation

How to Add Bleeds to Your Print Job

Brian Coale

Bleeds, or printing images and color right up to the edge of the page, are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to enhance the professional appearance of your print job. Having your graphics bleed delivers a more visually rich appearance, while typically not resulting in a significant increase the price. This is why most major publications and professional marketing collateral include bleeds as part of their design.

So why doesn't everyone use them?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding the process. Everyone has their own workflow and software they use to output their print files, and the procedure for including bleeds in your output file is different in every one of these scenarios. Sometimes, even with the right software, a lack of understanding of how bleeds work can lead to poor results. People that fall into this category might be asking:

Topics: File Preparation

Designing Type for Print in Photoshop

Brian Coale

Let's face it, everyone has different skills. One person may be great at playing guitar, but not know how to turn on a computer, while another might be great at programming, but not know how to play a single chord. As humans, we like to play to our strengths and work with what we know. This is why since I've been in the Printing & Publishing industry, I've seen a number of different types of job files come through the door, From PDFs to JPEGs, and InDesign to Word. Some are great to work with, while others can be problematical. One program that can regularly cause headaches for both you and your printer is Adobe Photoshop.

Let's go ahead and get it out there: Photoshop is not a layout program! It is intended to edit photographs and images, hence the name.

Topics: Design Tips File Preparation General Info Tips & Tricks

Why JPEGs are Bad for Print

Brian Coale

When it comes to images, JPEGs are the undisputed king of the hill. With roughly 70% of websites using JPEGs and most digital cameras and camcorders, including the ones on smart phones and tablets, JPEGs have a huge market share on the Internet and with electronic devices that use images. The advantages of this file format, particularly on the web or devices with limited internal memory, is that they offer a decent image quality with an impressive reduction in file size.

So why doesn't your printer like them? Why do they roll their eyes and make a face at the mere mention of this useful and nearly ubiquitous file format?