Print, like all trades, is susceptible to common mistakes.  These mistakes may seem simple to avoid but if they are allowed to slip through the cracks, they can lead to disastrous results.  It is assumed that as a skilled position, printers are perfect.  We must admit that we are, but sometimes even the best of us can make a small snafu.  Some of these flubs come prior to printing and if that is that case, thousands of copies may come off the press that in turn must be recycled or destroyed.  The best way to avoid these errors is by becoming well acquainted with them.  In doing so, we must first be familiar with the steps in the printing process.  The production of a book, manual, flyer or any other type of printing work is more often than not done in three main phases.  These phases are prepress, the actual printing process, and post-press.  The descriptions of these steps are provided by: 


Prepress includes all the steps that occur before the actual printing. Prepress usually consists of three steps: composition (writing, formatting, and pagination), reproduction of graphics, and the assembly of all the written and graphical elements into the page layout.


The next phase of the production process is transferring the information to paper. This can be achieved through several types of printing technologies. These technologies can be grouped into four different types depending on how the printing surface transfers the ink into the paper.  Some of these types are:

  • Letterpress printing
  • Gravure printing
  • Lithography
  • Screen printing


After the printing is finished the pages are put together and organized. Depending on the type of binding required different processes will take place to get the final product ready for distribution.

Now that we are familiar with the different phases of the printing process, we can delve into the common errors that occur along the way.  As mentioned, common mistakes can prove disastrous financially both in the short and long term.  The costs associated with a reprint may be significant while losing clients due to errors is greater still.  Some simple mistakes to avoid involve ignoring your lines.  For example, when printing a business card, one must abide by the safety line, trim line, and bleed area.  These are defined by as:

  • The safety line is the area inside which you should keep all text and graphics that you don’t want to be cut off by the printing machine.
  • The trim line is the line along which the card is going to be cut by the machine.
  • The bleed area (edge of paper) is the area that is going to be cut off by the machine, but make sure that this area is filled with image and color so that there is no white space left on your card when it is trimmed.

Reprints will assuredly occur if your design team does not heed the parameters of your lines. 

Other common mistakes include the following:

  1. No bleed areas included
  2. Text and graphics are not within the safety line
  3. Incorrectly positioned borders
  4. Artboard size doesn’t match the size of the design
  5. Leaving print guide layers in the file
  6. Colors are in RGB, not CMYK
  7. Resolution is too low
  8. Fonts aren’t embedded or outlined
  9. Spelling errors
  10. Poor designs


By becoming aware of the mistakes associated with the printing process, as well as the steps within that process, one may avoid costly errors.  One of the easiest ways to avoid these is by ensuring that if the print projects in your company are outsourced, the printer you use is well experienced and staffed sufficiently.  Vet your print company thoroughly prior to spending significant amounts of company finances.