How to design for print – from the printer’s perspective

??????????????????Designing for print – wow!  A topic like this can speak to so many variables such as color, font and typeface selection, which design platform to use, how to submit files to the printer……just so much to discuss.  Trade schools and design centers work with students on how to design for not only print, but for digital media as well, and frankly, that’s as it should be.  With the fact that digital marketing is a fast growing field, and print marketing is keeping pace with it by using cross-media, a designer who can function in both environments is going to be quite valuable.

One thing I’ve discovered, however, is that design schools tend to give designers too many tools in their toolbox, and not necessarily the RIGHT tools.  When the designer is at a company and asked to be the graphic designer or even print buyer, they may lack the basic understanding of how print works, the limitations that can be inherent in print production, as well as some of the ways print can be used creatively within those limitations.  Some schools, like Platt College, bring design students into print companies for tours to see how the print environment works.  These schools give students distinct advantages, in that they can see how a press works, or how files are actually worked on in a pre-press workflow, or how proofs look compared to how the file looks on their big iMac monitor.

So, this series of blog posts will be about designing for print, but not from the standpoint of the designer.  It will be on how to design for print from the printer’s perspective – my perspective after 3 decades in print.  The idea for the series was suggested by one of my fellow sales executives, who had a project that was designed without mailing in mind, and it cost the client extra in postage due to the odd size.  These blog posts will discuss the practicality of print, from envelope sizes and mailing, to finishing.  From paper and printing presses to how digital presses can impact how a designer designs the piece.  We’ll focus on paper in one post, going over terms such as coated and uncoated, dot gain, and how colored or tinted paper can affect the design, or enhance it.  Finally, we’ll cover some of the points in file preparation, such as how to save to a PDF, or how to build for varnishes or spot UV coatings.  So, come and join me for a romp through designing for print!

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.


About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at
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