Prepress Checklist for Graphic Designers to Prepare Print Ready Designs


7 minute read

It is important that the designer and client coordinate properly to get top quality designs, whether it is for a multipage product collateral or a simple business card. From the concept framing to printing, every step should be carried out with immense care. Most of the times, both designers and the client think of prepressing as something that falls under the responsibility of technicians in the print shop which is actually is wrong conception. In most of the cases, printing is a costly affair and consumes even up to 75% of the whole budget of the design project. So, any mistake left unaddressed can be a serious issue. Having a print-ready checklist for graphic designers is essential to stay safe and ensure that things are perfect when they reach the printing phase.

  1. Proofreading

    graphic design proofreading  

    Graphic design for print starts with a through proofreading process. Small errors, like grammatical errors and typos can adversely impact the sales. Studies by relevant organization in the domain found that these small errors are neglected only by 3% of your prospects. This means, your chances of getting sales from rest of 97% is at risk. On seeing errors, people may even terminate the reading process. So detecting and rectifying errors is vital; once the design gets printed and reaches the customers, you are helpless and can’t do any editing. You have to take care of two types of proof reading- linguistic proofreading and graphic proofreading. The former deals with checking typos, grammatical mistakes, spelling, sentence construction and the overall content flow. Graphic proofreading, also known as prepress proofreading looks into the visual aspects.

  2. Font spacing

    Font spacing in graphic design  

    After proofreading is done, next matter of concern is the text spacing. Though most of design programs and fonts reach with certain degree of optimization, you should do the needed font adjustments to ensure flawlessness. It is very crucial to adjust the tracking, leading and kerning of the text. Think of the whole picture as a structure. Every element should work cohesively with each other to pave way for a unified experience.

  3. Image size and resolution

    high resolution image size for printing  

    You should check resolution of imagery which means checking resolutions of images in the design as well as the resolution in which the whole draft is saved. You should save the print items at a minimum of 300 DPI. However, some experts opine that saving designs at maximum possible resolution is the best thing to do. Still, most of the professionals don’t go beyond enraging photos than 20% of the original file.

  4. Color accuracy

    color accuracy for photography  

    What you see on screen is not actually what you get as a print. To ensure that you get what you see on the digital screen is to verify the existing design color mode. This is an important part of prepress checklist for graphic designers. Digital cameras and computers see light and colours in different spectrums than the printers. The difference is obviously reflected in the print taken. Most of the design software make use of RGB colour mode while printers use CMYK. If your printer and computer are not synching in terms of colour language, results will be affected. Setting the program to CMYK mode is recommended.

  5. Crop and bleed marks

    adding crop marks and bleed  

    Crop marks show where the design has to be cut from and bleed is areas in which objects of text go past the boundary of page for compensating to trim. Slug is outside the bleed and features the instruction and additional information related to print. Don’t ignore the bleed or else you may get a white border on one side. Prepress for digital printing should have these marked correctly.

  6. High resolution PDF and best quality paper

    high resolution pdf for printing  

    PDF files keep entire elements intact on every devices and hence you are recommended to save the proof as PDF. Different types of papers create different feelings. Hence select the best paper type that suits your exact need and prospect’s preferences.

  7. Screen calibration

    Colour accuracy can be assured when calibration of screen is done before printing. On printing the model drafts, true colour tones may be easily thrown off from a screen which is not accurate. Photographers and designers nowadays have a lot of tools for checking the accuracy of colours in images before they send the design for printing. Designers and customers may have different calibrations for their monitors leading to miscommunication. So, view the design on multiple screens to detect issues. Most of the prepress companies in India considers this unfailingly.

Pro Tips

  • Preparing your images for optimum print quality

    We spend significant amount of time on crafting an attractive project for printing, but once the output quality is not as expected, the money and time spent on the project is totally wasted. The vibrant colors that were apparent on the screen have faded in the printed version. The crisp model on the screen has appeared pixelated and unattractive in the printed version. The natural brilliance of the colors is no longer visible. In other words, you need to put strong focus on preparing for printing. Fortunately, you can set this right. Just a little functional knowledge of preparing the images for printing would ensure top notch quality. The steps discussed below are simple to follow and would result in optimal resolution and print outcome.

  • Conversion of Images to CMYK mode

    The images that are meant for printing should essentially be converted to CMYK color mode. All images by default come in RGB color mode. But, RGB mode is best for images that are intended to be published on internet or for viewing on computers. For printing, the image’s color mode needs to be CMYK as the inherent colors are optimized for printing. CMYK is the industry standard of file formats for printing. For conversion to CMYK, open Photoshop and select the image in it. Next, navigate to the Image menu and from the top, choose Mode. The submenu that opens up has CMYK color mode which is to be clicked. In the ensuing dialog box, click OK and continue. Before proceeding, save the image in a different folder with title that easily recognizes the images which have been converted. This would help you to have separate folders for RGB images and CMYK images, optimized for printing.

  • Avoid Pixelation with Images of Maximum Resolution

    The image size for printing must be optimized to ensure that highest possible quality is sentto the printer. If the image resolution is not proper, the print on the paper would be pixelated. It is advisable to keep the image resolution within 250-300 dpi for superlative prints. You can find out the image resolution by navigating to Image menu and selecting the Image size. Once the dialog box appears, you need to select the number beside Resolution. If the number is less than 300, uptick it to 300 or more. The Resample box should not be checked. After ensuring that the resolution of the image has been brought up to 300 dpi, you have to make sure that the size of the image is properly scaled up to fit the space meant for printing. For this, you have get the pixels converted into inches. For example, the 640 X 480 pixels matrix would convert into 4” X 6” printed output. You can easily get the conversion factor from help file or internet and scale up your image size accordingly (1024 X 768 pixels: 5” X 7”; 1536 x 1024 pixels: 8" x 10"; 1600 x 1200 pixels: 16” X 20” and so on.) If the images have been captured by you, you need to ensure that the camera lens is configured to click pictures at the maximum output size possible.

  • Choose Between Raster and Vector Images

    All print outputs are not meant for A4 size papers. Sometimes, you need to print advertisements which have to be displayed on billboards or signboards. The file has to be printed in large format but the challenge is to steer clear of pixelation. For such purposes, vector image shave to be used. Vector image can spontaneously get resized for fitting the space, template or canvas in which the image has to be printed. The .eps format of Adobe Illustrator, for example, can get itself resized for fitting a small card or large signboard. Common file types are .pdf, .eps, .svg and .ai. In contrast, raster images are characterized by their fixed sizes. Once the raster image is resized, pixels would appear in the image. Common file extension for raster images are .tif, .jpg, .gif, and .png. When you are desirous of printing small sized graphics like logos, you need to use vector file for optimum printing results. The logo would not get pixelated even if it is printed in large size for billboard. After you have taken care of the aforesaid steps and is ready to fire the print, you need to ensure that all images are sent within finished design file as a package to the printer. This is particularly applicable for InDesign files. This way, you would not suffer from any missing file when the project is printed.


There you are! A complete guide for graphic designers on how to prepare print-ready designs. Hope this checklist will help all the beginners and intermediate graphic design professionals in their workflow. Most of these checklists, such as proofreading services, font spacing, color and bleed, images in CMYK mode, etc., ensure the quality of any printed material.

Thus, it is quite evident that prepress services are crucial for getting the best quality output and avoiding additional expenditure to reprint the designs. To avoid any mishaps, reach the best people for better outcome. Several expert agencies are there who can deliver the best print-ready files at nominal costs and a fast turnaround.