Print design is a delicate balance of art and science that has carved out a niche among graphic designers.
On the artistic side, the designs you create on the computer don’t always look as masterful when printed on business cards, flyers, or posters.
On the science spectrum, print marketing messages aren’t crafted in the same way as those for digital media. Print engages the senses, it has a longer shelf life, it’s highly portable, it holds viewers’ attention for longer, and it results in higher retention and greater emotional responses.
Ready to design your print projects like a pro? Put our top 12 tips into practice to create wow-worthy print marketing that works:
#1 - Scale Your Elements
Play around with resizing your elements to find the perfect proportions. Use headings and subheadings to change up your fonts. Overlap images or use one giant image as your background. Just make sure you’re using images that are high enough in quality to scale larger; otherwise, it will appear pixelated when it prints.
#2 - Limit Your Fonts
Too many different typefaces aren’t edgy, it’s just confusing. Not to mention that it’s not easy finding different fonts that look good together.
Professional graphic designers know to stick with a minimal number of different fonts. In many cases, they use the same font and experiment with various weights, spacing, and other minor cosmetic features.
If you’re not a professional designer, scour the web in search of typeface collections that have been designer-approved. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to choose stunning fonts for your print pieces.
See our recent guide on choosing the best fonts for printing.
#3 - Don’t Fear White Space
Most non-designers make the mistake of overloading the page, but more is not better in this case. Your images, text, and other elements need some breathing room.
When you load up your canvas with text and images, it’s not immediately obvious what you’re trying to accomplish. Your main message gets lost in the tumult and makes it harder for your audience to take advantage of whatever you’re offering.
"Using white space helps to create boundaries between your content."
Using white space helps to create boundaries between your content. It separates ideas so your core message doesn’t become overshadowed.
White space adds an element of elegance and importance to your piece, giving readers only what they really need to know. It’s also a surefire way they’ll actually read what you have to say because it appears less intimidating.
#4 - Don’t Go Overboard on Colors
It’s easy to color crazy when designing your projects but using too many colors won’t do you any favors. Even colorful brands like Skittles or M&Ms have their limits when it comes to choosing the right hues.
Rather than choosing random colors, stick with a central color palette for your primary colors and another for secondary colors. Also, you can use different shades of the same color to add consistency to your design and provide contrast and brightness where it counts.
If you’re using slimmer typefaces, adding contrast will be crucial against colored backgrounds.
#5 - Embed Your Fonts
There are thousands of different fonts and your printer may not have all of them. If you’re set on using a specific font in your design, embed it into your project or send the font files to the printer to download to maintain the design’s integrity.
If you don’t, the printer will make a font substitution that may not align with your design dreams. Even similar fonts like Bookman and Garamond have several differences that a scrutinizing designer will notice. Plus, using a substituted font may alter your entire layout due to sizing differences.
#6 - Create Your Print Document to Size
Sizing is one of the biggest challenges in creating print projects. It’s best to start designing your project in the same dimensions you plan to print. If you send a document that’s too small, it may appear blurry or pixelated. If you create a document that’s too large, part of your design may get cut off during the printing process.
#7 - Proofread Your Project
Even a tiny spelling error or missed comma can sabotage your entire project. Not only does it make you look unprofessional, but it can also be costly to reprint - or impossible to reprint by your desired deadline.
Take time to proofread your content before sending it to the printer. Even better, get a fresh set of eyes to review your writing. You can hire a professional editor to scan through your work. Fiverr is a great place to connect with freelance editors that offer proofing services for as little as $5.
#8 - Don’t Forget to Account for Bleeds
Most printing companies recommend a 3mm bleed in every direction to account for any variations in cutting and printing. Even if your background goes from edge to edge, you still need to ensure that nothing important will be cut off during the printing phase.
Allow yourself enough of a margin on all sides so that minor discrepancies in cutting won’t affect the outcome of your project.
#9 - Keep Your Content on Each Canvas to a Minimum
No one wants to be overwhelmed with too many messages. Whether you’re designing a flyer or a series of documents, aim for one idea per page. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your reader with too much information or multiple calls to action.
The more information they have to digest, the less likely they are to remember any of it.
#10 - Consider Your Printing Options
Having your documents professionally printed gives you access to myriad options like fine paper, finishes, and embellishments. Also, ask your printer about lesser known details that could impact your project’s shelf life. For example, some finishes aren’t recommended for folding because the colors crack when creased.
Check with your printing partner to explore your options for the best possible outcome.
#11 - Look for Errors in Consistency
To maintain a polished, professional look, make sure your documents or pages remain consistent throughout. Keeping the same colors, fonts, margins, heading sizes, and other elements can go a long way in pulling together your entire design.
#12 - Design with Deadlines in Mind
Too often, businesses think of printing deadlines as an afterthought. After all, it only takes a few seconds to send a document to your desktop ink printer, right?
The truth is, professional printing isn’t always that simple. Things like substrate, quantity, and the printer’s current workload all affect how quickly you’ll receive your final product. It’s important to first check with your printer regarding turnaround times and if expedited printing is available, should you miss your initial deadline.
From there, you can create project timelines that map out each step of your design process to ensure your print materials will be ready when you need them.
Also, it’s a good idea to plan for an additional print run in case there are errors in your design and it needs to be reprinted.
Print Design Made Easy
Las Vegas Color Graphics offers in-house design services to help you get the most from your print marketing. We help customize print pieces specifically for our printing services to help you reach your goals.