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Like all technologies, the printing process and the preparation for printing have been significantly simplified over time. Computer technology and the availability of graphics programs have made it quite easy, ”user friendly”Access to this area as well as great savings of time and materials in the process itself. However, there are a number of rules that must be followed when it comes to preparation for printing in order to obtain a satisfactory quality of printed material, and ultimately facilitate communication with the printer.

image of the components required for printing with the caption of the print device in the middle of the image

How to prepare for the press?

To begin with, a distinction should be made between vector and raster graphics.

Vector graphics uses mathematical functions, or vectors, as the name suggests, to draw the desired image. This type of graphics is most appreciative of printing. Files are quite "easy" because they carry little information. It is irreplaceable when creating logos, fonts, pictograms, icons… The most famous and most professional computer programs for this type of graphics are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw, while the vector file formats are: ai, cdr, eps, cmx and to some extent pdf. However, when it comes to displaying and processing photos for printing, vector graphics are quite unusable and then we use raster graphics.

Raster graphics (Bitmap) uses squares or dots to display or, you have heard, pixels. The most important thing to remember is that the resolution of the photo for printing must be 300 dpi (dots per inch) in a ratio of 1: 1. For larger formats (billboard, city light, roll up…), a slightly lower resolution is tolerated due to the distance from which they are viewed. From screen display to print, raster graphics have found application, so it can be said that it is the most common. This kind of graphics carries a lot of information and the higher the resolution (dpi) the heavier the files. Therefore, raster graphics can show a lot of details. So it is not a mistake if you display raster graphics and graphic elements such as logos, fonts… as long as you stick to the mentioned resolution of 300 dpi. As far as computer programs are concerned, Adobe Photoshop is without serious competition for raster image processing for now.

Raster formats of computer files are: psd, png, jpg, gif… and again the above mentioned pdf.

a representation illustrating the difference between raster and vector graphics

So it is clear that the printer will be convincingly most grateful if you submit the preparation in pdf format with the parameters for printing.

Preparation for printing depends mostly on the technology you will use and again the technology depends on the circulation and the substrate on which it is printed.


What else is important to know when preparing for print?

Prepress must always be in CMYK with the exception of vector graphics where you can also use PANTONE® colors. CMYK is an abbreviation for 4 shades, which can be used to perform over 16000 different colors. Color shades are C - cyan (blue), M - magenta (red), Y - yellow (yellow) and K - key (black), it is also recommended for the printing process to be white.

Black must always be 100% K, never derived from all 4 colors. It is also important that black is printed over other colors and not "engraved" like other colors. The term "black overprint" in English is not used in printing terminology.

As for the rules related to longer small text, it is important that it be in one color (not every letter of another color). You also don't need to print longer small text in raster (raster graphics) or in negative. In the end, all the text should be turned into "curves" because it may happen that the printing houses do not have the font that you used during the design.

The format (dimension) of the sheets should be planned in advance and it should be mentioned to the printer. The most commonly used format is A4, which is also used by desktop printers, so "p”(Trial copy) you can print anywhere to reduce errors and side effects. As for the format, it is important to make a 5mm overhang and not put any important 5mm information inside the designed format, because when cutting the sheet, it can move and thus "cut off" some important information or make an unwanted white line on the edge of the format.

These are just some of the general rules to follow that are most commonly used in offset printing but are largely true for other technologies as well. Offset is most often used as an example because it is used in large runs with the largest number of pages and therefore errors carry a lot of time and maybe even material, so you should be most careful.

What confuses people is the terminology of the printer, which has its roots in the German language. With a brief review of history and general culture, we come to Gutenberg and the Germans as pioneers of the press, so this information does not surprise us as expressions themselves.

table for determining graphic labels

What are these expressions (in alphabetical order):

Folding - pressing a mechanical line along which the printed product with a firmer base bends more easily. The best example are folders…

Blindprint - Embossed print created with a metal cliché resembling a seal. The best examples are diaries (covers), diplomas, charters (

Great - Guidelines for the printer where to cut or bend the sheet.

Running - You will hear it with older masters and known to us newer generations as a gradient. Otherwise it represents a raster transition of some color.

Grapple - The part of the sheets that is not visible in the final product and serves for some additional information to the printer on the sheet. The same is used to mechanically move the sheet without damaging the print.

Laminating - Gluing printed paper or foil to a firmer surface. Most commonly used in packaging printing…

Stapling - Joining sheets with staples (stapling) for brochures with a small number of pages.

a picture of a typographic magnifying glass

Lime - Gluing, joining book block sheets in catalogs with a larger number of pages.

Perforation - Drilling a series of holes or lines along which one part separates from the other. Example of a postage stamp or invoice.

Proof - Unlike most, this is a word of English origin and means the first test print.

Roaring - Cut the first layer of the sticker. Used when there are multiple labels on one sheet.

She roared - Printed part over the lime part of the book block. In libraries, books are mostly stacked so that only the roar can be seen.

SPIEGEL - In our country, it is better known as a shirt or a model of what the final product will look like. The layout of pages or articles per spiegel is usually followed.

Punching - Cutting graphic material according to a certain characteristic shape. There is a punched line along which this shape is marked. It is most often used for printing cardboard and paper packaging.


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Made by Sava Spasic - Senior Graphic Designer @Digitizer

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