Appearance Counts

Posted on Apr 27, 12 in Blog

Imagine getting ready to give a big presentation. You’ve practiced and polished it, your materials and equipment are ready to go, and maybe you’re even sporting a fresh haircut and a manicure. Then just before you leave home, you throw on an old, stained t-shirt and frayed jeans. Chances are that no matter how great your presentation is, you won’t be taken seriously.

Print materials are the same. The best information, presented in a sloppy way, can make a poor impression. Don’t waste great content with poor production quality.

Print Quality Checklist: Top ten things to look for.

  1. Paper quality – Consciously or subliminally, the feel of the stock communicates impressions. Is it lightweight, or solid? Cheap, or substantial?
  2. Text printing – Great copy doesn’t mean much if it’s hard to read. Blurry text, uneven ink distribution, or other printing defects convey a haphazard work standard.
  3. Color matching – A logo is the face of a business, so companies invest a lot in its design. Color precision in reproducing a brand image is critical to maintaining consistency. A set of mailers or brochures should look identical when placed side by side.
  4. Image resolution – Printed pictures should come to life. And in real life, we don’t see discernable pixels. They shouldn’t be visible on the printed page, either.
  5. Ink coverage – The right saturation keeps the tone from being either overly dark or very light. The coverage should also be even, without spots of “ghosting” or mottling.
  6. Coatings – Whether it’s a liquid coatings or film laminations, matte or gloss, there should be no curling, bubbling, wrinkling or peeling.
  7. Folding and trimming – Alignment must be maintained throughout the process, otherwise the paper could be trimmed too close to the text or folding could be crooked.
  8. Hickeys – (Yes, hickeys.) These are dots of missing ink caused by particles sticking to offset printing plates – usually ink, paper or dust. Needless to say, they are unsightly.
  9. Registration – When colors are printed separately, it’s important that they’re aligned precisely in order to prevent gaps.
  10. Skewed image – Here again, it’s about the alignment of the printing plates. Text and images should be straight, not crooked (unless that’s part of the design).

Printed materials need to capture attention, motivate the recipient to look closer, and stay in the reader’s hands for as long as possible. For maximum results, it needs to stand out, and convey quality. If it looks like it belongs in the recycling bin, that’s probably where it’s going.

A great-looking piece invites us to read it. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Lair Hull
Vice President of Operations