March 7, 2022

Print or Digital? The importance of communicating the intended format

Print or Digital? The importance of communicating the intended format
Print or Digital? The importance of communicating the intended format
Reading Time
6 minutes

We all know that communication plays a huge part in ensuring you get what you ask for in business and in life!

Let’s paint a picture….You’ve got a big graphic design job coming up and have engaged the services of a graphic design studio. Awesome!

First things first. If you have a deadline, book that project as soon as you have a deadline set!

Explain to the studio/agency that you may still be a few weeks or days away from having all the copy etc together. This allows the studio to book the job into the designer's schedule and they will often set a space in their own schedule to chase you up for any copy, images, logos etc that they may need prior to the design work starting. This gets you in the queue and gives you a deadline as to when the information will need to be 100% available to coincide with the start date.

Next, you must communicate if the project is for print / digital.


Well, a designer really needs to know if the job is destined for print, for digital use or both.

Print jobs are undertaken as CMYK projects (CMYK refers to the colour setting the project uses) while digital or screen projects are created in RGB.

If this information isn't available at the time of the job starting, most designers will need to contact you to find out. This normally means you are bumped to a later time slot until the info is available. If the job is for print but then you decide later you would like it digital as well, there’s a fair bit of work in changing it over. As an example, print jobs use in most cases 4 colours (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to create every available colour.

Text, for example, which is small is usually set at 100% black only. However, large black areas or solid black fill will use something more like 30% cyan, 30% yellow, 30% magenta and 100% black. Not doing so means the black could look faded when it's printed.

If the document is originally created in RGB, when the black is converted into RGB it is normally around 69% cyan, 67% magenta, 63% yellow and 73% black.

Not only is using this colour combination in a print job going to cause things such as set-off (when the page has such a thick ink coverage that it transfers ink to the back of the following page) it will also take longer to dry which could mean that the project can't progress through to finishing (eg getting stapled, bound or laminated) and the black will be inconsistent compared to other blacks and also may have a tinge of magenta/pink to it.

If the job is to be used for both print and formatted in digital, a designer will ensure that colour swatches are synced so that the change can be made simply reducing the possibility of mistakes. If the job was originally destined for digital only but is then requested for print, things like bleed need to be added (bleed is when you print past the page edge and then this is cut off when the job is trimmed - this ensures that on the finished page, if the guillotine was out by half a mm, you don't have half a mm of white on the edge of a coloured page).

Whilst it sounds simple, if bleed is a known requirement from the start, the designer will simply ensure a few mm hangs off the edge of the page from the start rather than cropping or placing an element on the edge line.

We hope the above has helped clarify just how important it is to advise your designer whether the project is for print or digital. Not only can it stop the back and forth but can also help your job get completed quicker!

If you have a graphic design job coming up, feel free to check out our graphic design page.

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