Have you ever wanted to get a poster or other large document printed, but when you got it back from the copy center, it didn't look like you had hoped?
There are tricks to ensuring your poster looks good, and you don't have to be a professional designer to make sure you get good results for your next large-format printing project. Here's what you need to know.
1. Image Resolution
All the graphics on a poster need to be printed at a resolution that is at least 300 dots per inch (also known as dpi, which is a way of measuring image quality). This typically means that pictures you took from a website won't work, unless you purchased and downloaded them at print resolution. If you create graphs or charts in an office or illustration program, make sure you save them at the highest possible resolution, at least 300 ppi, or pixels per inch.
2. Color Format
There are two different ways of showing colors, depending on whether they are to be viewed in print (CMYK, which refers to the four colors of ink that make all printed images) or on a screen (RGB, which refers to the three colors of light that combine to make colors for web or video). For printed materials, you want to make sure all your images are saved as CMYK images, or you may find that they will look dull in print.
3. File Format
No matter what software program you created your poster file in, you should convert a copy of the final to a PDF (portable document format). A PDF can be universally opened and printed, so it's a good choice for giving to your copy center. However, if something is wrong with your file, no one at the copy center will be able to make changes or fixes. It can make sense to also collect the original file and all the associated images, illustrations and fonts just in case the copy center employees need them. Deliver the files on a USB memory stick formatted for use on PC.
4. Back-Up Copy
Make sure you have a saved copy of your file on your own computer system. Don't send your only copy to the copy center, just in case there is an issue with the memory stick or the files are lost.
Choose a basic white or slightly off white paper stock with a matte finish. The matte finish will show your printed project better than a glossy finish, because the gloss can highlight any problems or issues. Also, if you are giving a presentation where your poster will be used, overhead lighting can reflect oddly off a glossy finish.
If you have questions about how to properly prepare your file for printing, be sure to call and ask your local copy center. They will be able to walk you through the process of preparing your file. You can also talk with specialists such as the Jensen Blueprint Repro Ltd printing team.