book printing and magazine printintgThere is an old saying in the music business, however inaccurate that also applies to printing.

The phrase goes like this: “We will fix it in the mix.” It is interesting to note that most producers, musicians or engineers who bought this pap failed. The music was not bettered in the mix, it just made pap crap! There is some truth to two other phrases: “You can’t put lipstick on a pig” and “You can polish a diamond but not a turd.”

Thus, there is a carry over with this logic into all creations, be they music, authoring, writing, or any business which is built on a foundation, as without a foundation, you have nothing to build in. It simply is the “weakest link” theory. How does this apply to the book, magazine or catalog you are about to produce? The “original sin” is your starting point or that which you are about to turn over to your book or magazine printer: Your files!

If what you are about to turn over for print production is “sinful” than no matter how pleased you may be with your “creation” and how it looks on screen, it will not be so pleasing to you when you get back your finished book, magazine or catalog.

Let’s take a look at what you can do in order not to wind up creating another “sinful” product that you will not make that wild assumption of “fixing it in the mix.”

One of the most crucial things you should understand is that you can’t “mess with mother nature.” Do not try and “reinvent the wheel” and try as best you can to swim downstream and work with the type of equipment that you are producing your book or magazine on. For example, if you are on a large run web press, than it is super important to understand the requirements of that press, for signatures, image area, ink density and more. Therefore you will always best be served in creating files that are best meant for that press configuration.


Never put a size ten “foots” into a size 8 shoe. The same goes for images as if you reduce them in your document program you are creating the potential for failure, as you are creating files that may be too huge to deal with. Resize your images in Photoshop BEFORE placing them into your document.

Web images are not print images. They have 95% less pixels. 72 dpi, means it measures in two dimensions. 72 x 72=5184. Commercial printing calls for 300 dpi, thus 300 x 300=90,000.

A good “approximate how it will look printed is to blow up image to 400%. If you see pixels or the image is fuzzy, you are in trouble. Since you cannot increase the dpi at the current size, your only choice is to reduce the image size without re-sampling and compress the available dots.

RGB vs. CMYK: RGB is a screen and photographic system and not for printing. CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) is. If you don’t set to CMYK and color correct once done you will have color shifts beyond your control at press.


Never be correcting copy or misspellings after you get your printer’s proof. The time to do so is prior to presenting your files to the printer unless you have a fat wallet.

Single Pages vs. Spreads:

Always provide your book or magazine printer with single pages in a single document format. You probably do not know how to set up a printer’s spread and a reader’s spread will not be printable as presented.

Image Safety Area:

Placing images or copy, unless you intend to bleed image off page, is not a good idea for two reasons. First it looks amateurish and secondly you risk having it cut into. Always allow for a safety area away from the trim marks, as trimming is not “surgical procedure” but a good approximate one. On a web press, where there is “jiggle” as the fast moving roll of paper can cause imprecise trim. Depending on the press this could be from ¼ to 3/8 of an inch. Also on a web press be careful not to overload the amount of ink and coverage. Check with your printing press contact for how much as each press is different.

book printing, magazine printing


Ink coverage to page edge is not created by a perfect ink line but by trimming. Anything you intend to “bleed” off the edge of the page needs to extend beyond the trim line by 1/8” and sometimes ¼” for web presses.

Microsoft Word:

Word is not recommended for printing, especially for magazines. However if Word is all you have or you like it’s ease of use to edit and write, then be sure to convert it to a PDF, and not from Word by with Adobe Acrobat and yes there is a difference.


The best advice I can ever give another for a commercial printing project is to plan your job from the last stop on the line and work backwards. Meaning: Always construct a paper mock up of your work so you understand exactly what you are handing off to the printer.

In summation, it is far less expensive, easier to meet due dates and less frustrating if you take the time to consider all the necessary steps required in order to build your foundation appropriately prior to handing off files. The only way you can have a success with the production of your book or magazine is to make sure that you do all you can in the “original” processes in order not to be guilty of committing the “original sin.”


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