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Top 10 Label Artwork Prep Mistakes

Every day we receive artwork files for custom label printing. Sometimes the art we receive is perfect and ready for print, but more often than not there are problems that need to be addressed before we can move forward with printing. We have created a list of the more common mistakes that people make when preparing their artwork for press. If you take care to avoid these mistakes you will save yourself a great deal of time and money.

  1. Missing Fonts
    • You might have picked the perfect font for your artwork, but if we don’t have it, when we open your file we will get an error message and it will default to something else. The best way around this is to always outline your fonts before sending us your file, or send the fonts along with art file. For this reason we also like to have a copy of the artwork sent as a Jpeg or PDF so we can compare and solve any problems that might arrive.
  2. Improper File Resolution
    • Many times people send us a file of a picture, logo or graphic that was on their web site and expect us to create a nice looking label from it. Unfortunately, in most cases the file on the web site is very low resolution, 72 dpi. We know if we print a file at that resolution it is going to look horrible. We recommend a minimum resolution of 300 dpi or using vector based artwork for best results. We would also like to remind people that images from the web are not copyright free and permission should always be asked from the original owner to be used in any manner.
  3. Spelling and Typing Mistakes
    • This one should really go without saying, but because we see it so often we wanted to have it here. While we have a extensive quality process to catch mistakes, it is your responsibility to check your label artwork carefully. We have learned that you can never proofread enough - even when you are sure it is correct, check it one more time. Sometimes we print beautiful labels only to discover a spelling mistake after the fact. You can save yourself disappointment and expense by spending extra time making sure all your text is correct.
  4. Missing Bleed or Clear Zone
    • If you want your color to print all the way to the edge of your label you need to include a minimum bleed of 1/16" (.0625"). For example, if you want to print a 4" x 5" label, the size of the artwork you would create would be 4.125" x 5.125" The reason is because during the die-cutting the label material can move ever so slightly when running through the presses, so you need to make allowances for this in your artwork. For this same reason you need to allow for a Clear Zone around the edges of your label that is free of text. More details can been found on our Artwork Specs page.
  5. RGB vs CMYK
    • Everything we print is in CMYK, also known as four color process, and Pantone colors. However, all computer monitors display color as RGB (Red-Green-Blue). Your files should Not be saved as a RGB color space, the color is going to shift and could dramatically look different when printed in CMYK; so it is always a good idea to create your artwork as CMYK and/or with Pantone colors. Also Note that your monitor and desktop printer will never be an exact match to the professionally printed product due to differences in RGB, monitor calibrations, different printers and a variety of other factors. You should request a hard color press proof if color is the utmost importance to you.
  6. Hard to Print Color Mixes
    • We are a Flexographic print shop. While there are many benefits there are some limitations when printing screens. Colors and gradients should not have a range of 2% and lower unless set at 0. If there is screen percentage this low, during the plate making process it will be scrubbed partially or completely clean and cause unintended printing results. More details can been found on our Artwork Specs page.
  7. Thin Borders
    • If you want a thin border or one that prints right near the edge this isn’t a great design idea for print, as you might not be happy with the end result. There is always some slight movement when printing and die-cutting your labels on press. While this movement is only a small fraction of an inch, if your border is thin and near the edge of the label this movement will be noticeable. Our advice, if you want a border, make a thicker one (more than 4 points). This way the slight movement will not be as noticeable.
  8. Missing Graphics/Links
    • All your graphic elements should be embedded into your document and placed images supplied as separate files when sending them to us, otherwise when we open your file there may be missing graphics or artwork.
  9. Unsupported Software Format
    • There are a lot of different software programs you can use to design labels. Most of them cannot be used on a professional printing press. We have artwork specs on our web site to follow, but you will always be better off if you use the graphic industry standard programs: ex. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Quark. While you still need to follow the art specs, these programs are designed to create high quality art that will produce the best quality custom label. If you don’t have this software, then make sure you can export into a standard graphic formats such as AI, EPS, TIF or a hi-res JPEG.
  10. Color Expectations
    • Many people create their label artwork and then print it out on their inkjet or laser printer, thinking this is how their labels will look. Your monitor and desktop printer will never be an exact match to a press printed product due to differences in RGB, monitor calibrations, different printers and a variety of other factors. You should request a press proof and color match if color is the utmost importance to you.

We see files every day that contain one or more of these mistakes. So if you can avoid these common pitfalls when creating your artwork, your custom label order will be processed more quickly and you will receive the high quality result that you are no doubt expecting. We also offer our own graphic design services and would love to work with you to create and bring your design to a printed reality.