Things to avoid

Simon Tranter
by Simon Tranter 6 years ago

Today’s graphics applications are incredibly sophisticated.
So much so, that some may contain features not compatible with the latest developments in printing technology. Likewise, some things can look great on screen, but not when printed. Based on our experience, we’ve prepared a list of items that we know can cause problems. So please, follow the advice below.


Hairlines are ‘device dependent’. This means that they print at different resolutions on different machines. They may print fine on your 300dpi laser printer, but will disappear on our 2400dpi plate-setter. Use 0.25pt instead.

Texture and Postscript Fills

These print erratically, it's best to save them as a TIF or JPG instead.

Layer Effects And Transparency Effects

If you are using layer and transparency effects in your artwork then you'll need to supply your PDF as a version 1.4 PDF, this will ensure that any layer and transparency effects are honoured. If you are saving as a version 1.3 PDF then your Transparency Flattener preset (in both InDesign® and Illustrator®) will need to be set on high resolution setting ready for printing, and then applied when creating your PDF;

In Illustrator® the Raster Effects Settings will also need to be set towards vector :







Be careful with overprint settings (especially in QuarkXpress). If you set objects to overprint, they will not ‘knock-out’ the background, and will look very different to what you see on screen or proof. Black text generally defaults to overprint, (as does the 100% black swatch in some applications). This is usually OK. Please refer to your application manual for more details.

Duotone/RGB images

These may print in black and white, or with washed out colours – always convert to CMYK.


Avoid using borders where possible (especially on small items such as business cards), since even a half millimetre movement when guillotined could make your border look uneven and unprofessional.


Vignettes, or gradient fills are best avoided – these are difficult to print and they have a tendency to show ‘banding’ and look unprofessional. There is advice on gradients in the Help section on the Adobe website which you may find useful.


Be careful with using watermarks, if they’re too heavy it can make text or writing difficult to read. We recommend using a tint between 5%-7% for the best results. We cannot guarantee to print below 5%.

Aligning elements to folds

Avoid trying to line up design elements with folds or creases. There’s a chance they may not land perfectly on the fold or crease which can look unprofessional.