Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Artwork Guidelines for Direct2Print Online Printing

There are some useful hints and tips on our websites to help you prepare files for online printing.  This article just acts as a quick reference guide.  Sending a PDF file reduces the potential for any problems but is not guaranteed to produce the results you require.

The main point to note is that files sent to www.direct2print.net can be RGB format or CMYK format.  Files sent for full colour process printing to www.direct2printonline.co.uk must always be in CMYK format. 

Please contact our Customer Services free on 0800 0346 007 if you need help with preparing digital artwork.

Some basic advice is noted below:
File Types

We accept many types of files. However, PDF is preferred.  When you have finished creating your artwork always save as a PDF.  With some design software it is best to “flatten” images and avoid layers before saving.

We do accept files from some Microsoft Office applications (in particular Word and PowerPoint), this should only be for Document Printing and Digital Printing.  We cannot guarantee the desired output because there could still be some issues with regards to pagination or missing images but our production printing presses can print equally well from both RGB and CMYK files, so there should be no issues over colour.

If the file is created in RGB (usually a Microsoft programme) for full colour process printing the colours will be automatically converted to CMYK. The nearest equivalent colours will often show ink and photos to be darker and duller than how they would appear on screen or printed digitally or on a normal office or inkjet printer. 

If you create artwork in RGB format contact our designers for advice prior to uploading the files.  They will be happy to assist – simply call free on 0800 0346 007 and they will get back to you.

PDF Options

PDF is the safest method of saving and sending files.  However, there can still be potential problems with missing or corrupt fonts.  Make sure all objects, such as all the fonts and pictures, are embedded into the PDF. 

You can download free PDF creators from the internet and they can be used as another printer option on your computer – there are a number of links on our website to download PDF creators.


Bleed should not be added for Document Printing.  Crop Marks and Bleed are not necessary if your printing is not designed to meet the edge of the page when Digital Printing.

Bleed should be added for Digital Printing where artwork is designed to meet the edge of the page (usually extending the background colour).

If your artwork meets the edge of the page, but has no bleed, we will either cut into your job to make the finished size slightly smaller or you will have a white border around your finished printing.

To create bleed you are required to extend the size of the page by 2 – 3mm and, if possible, add crop marks to the finished size. 

·        Font Size

Font sizes below 8pt can become difficult to read. Avoid putting too much text onto promotional items like leaflets and business cards.  10-11pt is recommended for most documents or ‘body text’ and if your font size has to be any smaller to fit everything in – then you probably have too much text in the first place.

Avoid using very thin fonts as this may also cause problems over the clarity of the information.  And be aware that some script typefaces make legibility of postcodes and telephone numbers very difficult.

Where possible stick to the better known fonts – it can save a lot of problems!

·        ‘Rich’ Blacks

This is a technical term and common with full colour process printing.  When preparing artwork for larger quantities of printing and non-digital output you will need to prepare colours in a CMYK format.  Solid blacks should be made of 30% Cyan (C), 30% Magenta (M), 30% Yellow (Y) and 100% Black (K). 100% Black alone can appear dull over large areas.

·        Picture Resolution

Image files or photographs should ideally be at least 300dpi.  Jpegs are normally created in screen resolution of 72dpi and can often appear to be pixelated when printed. 

We have successfully printed jpegs or used artwork for some items but pay particular attention if the image has to be enlarged.

A good indication of the quality of the printing any images is usually the size of the file – and if the file size is below 1MB it is worth checking image quality before sending to print.

·        File Size

Files should be as small as possible without compromising on quality. Files larger than 20mb will not go through our email system. The easiest method to send large files is through one of the free file transfer services that can be found on the internet.  On our LINKS page there are links to a number of these free services.

·        Proofing

A free printed proof can be supplied if requested. Simply log onto the FREE TRIAL page and we will print a sample page on the nearest available stock.

This is strongly recommended if there is a need to match a particular colour and you have plenty of time before the need to place an order.

Our printers can scan and store particular pantone colours for regular orders where colour is particularly important for the company identity.

·        Colour Matching

Every printing press is different and colour can even vary between runs of the same artwork even on the same day. However, we can attempt to match colours if a suitable sample is supplied. Our machines are regularly calibrated to achieve the closest possible colour representation.

Our digital production printers can also modify the image by lightening or darkening your printed page in a series of gradual steps.  In most cases, our operator will make a judgement to try and obtain the best results.

·        Some Other Things To Avoid

Avoid using borders, especially for double-sided artwork. It is difficult to register both sides perfectly and there is often a little movement when paper or card travels through the press.

Be aware that your border may not be consistent throughout the finished product.  This is particularly important if the document or printed product needs to be folded.

Avoid using ink coverage of above 240% (total of CMYK). This may result in the surface print buckling or curling when passing through the press.

Hopefully you will be pleased with the finished result and we offer a total quality guarantee on any printing that is below the high standards we would normally expect.  However, “prevention is always better than cure” and we would be happy to help and assist whenever required.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Binding Options at Direct2Print

A few customers have been unsure of the various binding methods available when placing an online document printing order at Direct2Print.

When placing an order it is possible to select an option which would be beyond the specification and capabilities of the various machines.

The most basic form of binding is stapling – either in various positions or as a booklet.  The maximum number of sheets of paper for online stapling is 50 (assuming all 80gsm or the “standard” specification).  The thicker the paper the fewer sheets and an easy method of calculation would be by multiplying the total number of sheets by the grams of the paper to give a total sheet capacity.

For example, 50 x 80gsm gives a total capacity of 4000gsm – so 4000 divided by 120gsm paper would be just above 33 sheets capacity.

If the stapling had to be undertaken offline then the staple size can be adapted to penetrate a larger number of sheets or a mixture of stocks, for example by adding an acetate or card cover.

Slide binding can be supplied as an option costing the same as stapling. There are various sizes of spine and we simply can add acetates and cards for extra protection.

A popular choice for binding is known as comb binding or spiral binding. This works by punching holes in the left hand side margin.  The combs come in a variety of sizes and colours and again, usually with clear acetate on the front and a card on the back.

The benefit of a comb bound document is that the pages can easily lie flat on a hard surface like a table – so it is easier to do other things with your hands rather than trying to keep the document pages open.

And in addition, if an error is made on any page it is relatively easily to replace the page – simply by punching the paper and then re-inserting into the document.

Comb Bound Documents

However, it should be remembered that there are two different types of machine and length of comb – some have 20 rings and some have 21 rings.  This can complicate any documents where you need to change a page.

The plastic is also a better option for A5 sized bound documents because the combs are easy to trim and the binding machine can easily be adjusted.

Comb binding is also more suitable for very thick documents – although we recommend a maximum thickness of 250 sheets of 80gsm paper (or 500 sides) using a 50mm wide plastic comb.

If your document consists of more than 250 sheets of paper we would recommend opting for the 2 or 4 hole drilling – so that it can be inserted into a presentation folder or lever arch file.

Direct2Print always specify the very high quality thick (240micron) acetates because they make the documents look good.  Some companies like the frosted acetates, especailly if they have a printed front cover, and this option can be specified offline if preferred.

The most popular binding method at Direct2Print is wire binding.  This uses a metal wire and is a similar process to plastic comb binding.  This method has all the benefits of comb binding but adds a professional finish to the presentation or booklet.  Wires can also be supplied in a variety of colours and  a colour that is most appropriate for the colour of the cover page of the document is usually selected.

Wire Bound Documents

Wire binding covers documents from a couple of sheets of paper up to about 250 sheets (500 sides).  There are two punching dies which have to be used according to the size of the document – the Direct2Print policy is to try and have a wire with a reasonable amount of spare capacity as it makes the pages easier to turn and lay flat when opening out.

Finally, there is Fastback binding.  This is also known as thermo or heat binding and has the advantage of keeping pages intact and ideal for when you have to send documents through the post.  A strp has glue fixed into it and when inserted into the machine the glue melts and wraps aound the document to hold all the pages in place.

We stock a supply of both A4 and A5 spines and in a selection of colours – usually adding a special front acetate and card on the back.

However, there is a restriction on the number of pages we bind in any one document – because the binding capability is not as good for thick documents.

Fastback Bind

Our capacity is 120 80gsm sheets of paper and the same principle applies to our section on stapling. 

The thicker the paper the fewer sheets and an easy method of calculation would be by multiplying the total number of sheets by the gsm of the paper to give a total sheet capacity.

For example, 90 x 100gsm sheets would be the maximum capacity for Fastback binding.

This all sounds a bit technical which is why you can always contact our Customer Services Free on 0800 0346 007 during normal office hours to discuss which is the best method to present and bind your documents.

We are able to offer other options offline – so do not think that because we do not offer anything during the online order process we are unable to supply a binding method that meets your requirements exactly.

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