How to Keep Your Pre-Print Process from Ruining Your Project

If a print project fails to produce the expected result, the printing itself usually isn’t to blame. More often than not, the culprit is something that happened way before you submitted the print job. Mistakes made in your pre-print process can derail a campaign. Here are a few things to check before clicking the submit button.

Text – Make sure there are no spelling and grammar errors, the text is clear and gets to the point quickly. Remove the fluff and irrelevant material. Proofreading methods that work well for many people include reading the text out loud and having someone other than the author review it. Use spellcheckers and other tools to alert you to possible errors or areas of improvement, but don’t rely on them as the only method of review. You can find several grammar and style checkers online. Many of them are free.

Graphics – Review graphic sizes and file formats to make sure the graphics conform to specifications provided by your print service provider. If you have downloaded photos or images from the internet, check on copyright and usage restrictions before including them in your project. Make sure you haven’t distorted images by altering dimensions. Look closely at everything in photos, not only the main subject. Objectionable or distracting people and items have been known to lurk in the background of published photos and cause great embarrassment.

Call to Action – The most devastating error is failing to make crystal clear what it is you want the reader to do next. Should they call an 800 number, write their congressman, send a check to a charity? There must be something you want to happen or you wouldn’t be printing the piece. That action message should be communicated loud and clear. Also, be sure to give the reader a good reason to take the desired action. Communications where the only beneficiary is the creator of the document rarely succeed.

Links – It’s common for a printed piece to refer to online forms, content, or offers. You might make the connections via common URL addresses (, a personal URL or PURL, or in a code such as a quick response (QR) code. Compare the material residing at referenced online locations to the message on the printed piece to ensure they are consistent. All referenced web pages should be present and working in several different browsers and platforms. Freeze further development on these pages until the campaign is over.

Mobile – Since a great many people use mobile devices as their primary internet access method, all aspects of your campaign should be mobile friendly. Thoroughly test QR or other codes used to connect print and online resources. Check them on multiple devices and camera resolutions to make sure they work. Verify web pages accessed through these methods are optimized for mobile viewing.

Data – Even the best offer will fall flat if variable data used to generate the piece is inaccurate. Obviously name and address information is critical if the piece is to be mailed, but also any data used to personalize the message, control the selection of graphics, or vary the offer must be correct. Poor personalization is worse than no personalization. If the validity of a piece of data is suspicious, don’t use it.

The experts at EarthColor can guide you through all these details and more to ensure a successful print project or campaign. Contact us for individual advice when you are planning your next project.

What steps are you taking to ensure a flawless pre-print process? Share your thoughts.

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