Pretty Please Print Me

I’m all for going digital and online proofing is a great timesaver not to mention it’s better for the environment and saves our precious trees. But the reality is, if final product you are writing and designing will be printed, somewhere along the way once the main design is done, you have to print it out to get a true idea of how everything will look before you send it off print a mass quantity.

We live in a smartphone, iPad kind of world, where we live life doing nearly everything online, a click here or a scroll there, it’s effortless. But there are still times when using physical printed materials are merited; they do have their place in the world (of course using recycled materials if you can keeps the world a happier place).

There are a few key issues that tend to surface when you finally see a printout, these are the things to look for:

1) Font selection and size. We read things differently while we are zoomed in online than on the page. What is good for a headline font may or may not work for the body copy font when you see an entire paragraph of it, and vice versa. It can be wise to test out a few different font samples. Also size in relation to one another needs to be assessed.

2) Margins, overall spacing, and white space. Again scrolling around on various sizes computer monitors zoomed in, are very different than seeing something on a fixed page. Good design uses negative/white space to makes sure everything stands out to grab the attention of the reader, and those perceptions of space are very different between screen and paper. You also need to leave a proper amount of safety margins to allow for any slight shift in paper going through the printers or cutting if applicable.

3) Color. What you see on screen is not what you will see when you print. If you are printing professionally, not even your inkjet printer can do this for you, so you may need to ask the printer to see a calibrated proof of some kind if exact color matching is imperative. On the other hand, even if it’s just a small thing like a flyer you are going to print on your own home printer, or a brochure to send to your local copy shop, it is still a wise idea to print one copy out early on to get a sense of the color scheme you are using and check if you like it on paper as much as on screen.

As a side note, there is a whole new landscape with regards to online design for smartphones and tablets, but that’s a whole other post. For now, whatever printed project you are working on, a brochure, a postcard, some literature for the table at your next trade show, whatever it is, pretty please do not wait until the last minute to first see something live on paper in your hands. I promise it will save you much time, energy, money and frustration down the road.


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