Posters in bulk are a great way to advertise your business, promote your event or show, raise awareness for your brand or show off your product or service with a design that stands out. Our Chilliprinting posters are a particular bestseller among our customers because we offer a great high quality product at competitive prices with fast delivery. However, in our experience there are some very common mistakes you can make when ordering offset printed posters in bulk.
Some of these poster printing mistakes appear to be small details only, yet they can introduce delays or additional costs and cause unexpected print results and waste of resources. From setting up your print file correctly to planning ahead and communicating essential specifics, we cover the most common mistakes when printing posters in bulk. We show you how you can easily avoid these pitfalls and make your print job a smooth and stress-free experience that delivers a great result.
1. Not Knowing How Many Posters You Need
Printing offset posters in bulk has never been easier than with Chilliprinting. With just a few clicks, you can quickly order your posters online at very competitive prices in bulk quantities. However, you need to plan ahead: although we offer delivery in only 48 hours, sometimes timing is everything. Whether you need your posters for promotion or branding, for events or trade shows or your advertising campaign, calculate in advance how many copies you need to order. Even at our great prices, a second print run will cost you more than ordering a larger quantity the first time (see our blog post about the prices of our posters to understand why). If your timing is tight, there might not be enough time to order a second batch, even with our fast delivery.
The solution: Consult with everyone involved just how many posters you will require. When in doubt, it is advisable in nearly all cases to err on the plus side and simply order extra. Very often new opportunities arise for using your posters and you will be glad to have some more on hand.
2. Wrong File Format
Sending your printer the wrong file format will result in a delay at best as you will have to send it again in the correct format. In the worst case scenario, a wrong file format could cause a ruined print run as an unexpected result can render your posters unusable. Most printers will accept PDFs for poster print jobs, and PDFs only. No Microsoft Office documents or open formats. Some printers might accept an TIFF file, others have very specific instructions on how to convert or export your print file into PDF. The reason is that PDF parameters handle details such as overprinting, colors, transparencies and other factors which directly affect how your posters will look in print.
Note: At Chilliprinting, we accept JPEG, PDF and TIFF files for ordering online posters in bulk.
The solution: There is no universal file format or PDF variant that will guarantee best results with all printers. Don’t get into an argument between printer and designer on how to output a print file correctly – trust the printer, they know their requirements for best results. For Chilliprinting posters, we need you to design your print file with the dimensions of your poster. For PDF conversion, you can simply download our Adobe Acrobat Distiller job options.
3. Setting A Wrong Or Low Resolution
In general, the resolution for printing posters in bulk is 300 dpi. A resolution that is set way too high can cause problems due to a large file size and delayed processing, requiring a down-sizing in the artwork file. But one of the most common problems is a resolution that is too low for quality printing, resulting in a pixelated outcome. You cannot use images intended for online use for print, as they will have a resolution of 72 dpi optimized for screens only. Similarly, GIF and PNG files are on-screen file formats which will not print well.
For poster printing in bulk, we can accept artwork with a resolution as low as 150 dpi.
The resolution depends on from what distance people will be viewing the poster. The closer they are to the finished print, the finer the resolution should be (ie: min 300 dpi), however when viewed at a distance of greater than 2m, 150 dpi and 300 dpi look identical.
The solution: Different print products can have different acceptable minimum resolutions. For posters, it should generally be 300 dpi (although 150 dpi is acceptable) so the final result is not grainy, blurry or pixelated. If you have bitmap elements in your design (such as photos), please ensure their resolution is high enough so they can be printed at the required size, and you are not using screen-only files. At Chilliprinting, we use a 70 line raster which results in a resolution of 354 dpi. Your print files should have an optimal resolution between 300 and 354 dpi, but no greater than that.
4. No Document Bleed Or Inaccurate Bleed
Bleed refers to artwork extending beyond the cutting edge or trim line of your document. If you want a color, image or any other element of your design to run off the edge of your poster, you need bleed in your print file. The background is that no guillotine or cutting machine can trim exactly on the cutting edge, so a little leeway is required. This is the bleed. No bleed or too little bleed in your document might cause a tiny sliver of white paper on the edge of your posters, which looks highly undesirable.
The solution: Always set up bleed in your print file, and don’t forget to export it when you save and convert your document to PDF. Most printers will thank you when you don’t export crop marks, by the way. Check with your printer how much bleed is required for which print product. For Chilliprinting posters, we need 0.1 inch bleed on each edge.
5. Placing Elements Too Close To The Cutting Edge
This problem is related to document bleed as it is caused by slight inaccuracies when trimming print products. Printers print and cut in bulk. The guillotines or cutters are precise, but not perfect – they can be off by a sliver of an inch. This is why you need to set up bleed, and why you should not place elements in your design too close to the cutting edge. If a border, an image or text are too close to the trim line, they might look imbalanced at best or could get cut off at worst during trimming.
The solution: This sort of buffer area is also called a quiet border. Always leave enough safe space between important design elements and the cutting edge and make quiet borders part of your design from the beginning. For posters, Chilliprinting recommends a safety margin for front elements such as graphics, text and important information of at least 0.08 inch.
6. Legibility Of Text
In part, legibility of text is a question of design: ideally, a designer will keep poster legibility in mind and convey all important information in text that is of sufficient size to be readable even at a distance. However, there are common printing mistakes that can also affect text legibility. For best results, black or dark text before a white or light background offers great readability, but some designs will require the inverse. If you need text (especially small letters) knocked out of a black or dark background, ensure it does not include large amounts of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Otherwise, the text might print blurred, depending on the overprinting settings. The background is that slight misalignments of print colors are possible, resulting in edges that are not smooth. This problem is amplified the smaller your text is.
Another problem with text legibility occurs when a designer does not use vector typography. Bitmap text is rastered with pixels and simply will not look sharp in print if it is not set as vectors. Unless blurry, pixelated text is the desired effect, double-check that your text is laid out as vector.
The solution: Consult your printer regarding overprinting settings and how to best knock out text in front of a dark background. For optimal results, use white text on a background with only a percentage of black (and no other colors). If you must use colors, use small percentages. This does not only apply to white text on black, but for any colors as well as text on textures. Also ensure all text elements are indeed vector and are above the minimum font size your printer requires – and are legible from a distance for your poster!
7. Missing Fonts Or Unconverted Fonts
Font mistakes might seem related to text, but they open a whole range of pitfalls of their own. In short, you cannot expect your printer to have the same fonts as you have on your computer or are using for your design. Discussions about which fonts are or should be “standard” are pointless. There are several routes to properly supply fonts with your print file, and some are more suited for some print products than others.
The solution: You can embed fonts in your PDF, or you can convert your text to outlines (vector) before exporting your document. Check with your printer which option they recommend for your poster printing. For Chilliprinting, we recommend the use of PostScript fonts as they can guarantee proper embedding and conversion. If you must use TrueType fonts for any reason, you will need to convert them to vector / outlines / curves.
8. Colors And Color Spaces
“But it looked great on my screen!” This is one of the most common complaints by designers who are surprised when their prints don’t come out as expected. In most cases, some sort of color mistake, assumption or misconception is involved. Keep in mind that color-wise, your posters will never look exactly like they do on your screen. In a nutshell, modern displays are back-lit and use a variant of the RGB color space, whereas printers use the CMYK color space. At some point, a conversion has to happen. Colors can be off if you don’t set up your print file as CMYK, incorrectly convert images, assign a wrong color profile to your document, forget to convert black & white images to grayscale and don’t use process color black for black areas in your design. Your Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black should be process colors, not spot colors. The sum of the four colors should not exceed 300%, otherwise it will cause an above-average application of ink. Your prints will not dry fast enough and can stick together.
The solution: Consult your printer about colors. PMS, HKS or other special colors are a whole different chapter, but generally, your printer will use the CMYK color space and your print files should be CMYK documents. Don’t forget to convert black & white images to grayscale, otherwise they will have a sepia-like tint. Ask your printer which color profile to use, and which type of black to use for full black areas. In general, 100 % black is the best result. For Chilliprinting posters, we require CMYK document and you can download a color profile from our website. We recommend using only process black for black or gray colors. Avoid shadowed, blurry text by using only a single color for text, if possible. For deep black other than 100% K, use 40% Cyan and 100% black (C:40/M:0/Y:0/K:100) or C:30/M:30/Y:30/K:100.
9. Communication And Time Management
It doesn’t matter what you will be using the posters for, whether it’s an event, promotional campaign or even just around the office, always plan enough time for your print job. Yes, we print and deliver very fast, but you will need a buffer in case anything goes wrong. A common mistake is not to plan any time for fixing a printing mistake. Your designer hands you the print file, you sent it to your printer, they spot a problem, and you need to refer back to your designer to fix it. Don’t underestimate the amount of time this can consume. Also, any requests or communication with either your designer or printer where you are not specific are likely to result in mistakes, misunderstandings, delays or additional costs when you need to fix things.
The solution: Clarify things from the beginning and plan enough time for your poster print job, including time to fix mistakes. Better yet, avoid as many mistakes as possible. Ask your printer early about all requirements. If you are not designing your posters yourself, communicate everything you need to your designer, or connect your designer with your printer directly. Don’t assume your designer will know everything about requirements. Avoid misunderstandings that stem from being unspecific. “Standard” is a tricky word, for example. So are expressions as “the best”, “the usual” or “same as last time” when referring to any parameters of a print job. Be specific and communicate precisely.
10. Proofreading And Final Print File
This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times proofreading is skipped or performed in a hurry. We are all human, we all make mistakes. These can be hard to spot, especially when they’re simple typos in text we’ve been staring at for too long already. On your company blog, a spelling mistake is quickly fixed. Once your posters are printed, however, you have no option other than to print them again at an extra cost.
Related to proofreading is version checking of your print file or design elements. It’s a very common mistake to simply upload the wrong version of a design, or to go to print before everything was finalized and properly approved.
The solution: Allow time for these important steps. Proofreading and checking a print file is essential and should ideally be performed by at least two sets of eyes. Make sure you arrive at a final version of your poster design which all the necessary people see and approve before you go to print. Ultimately, upload the correct file to your printer!
If you follow our above guidelines for avoiding common printing mistakes when printing bulk posters, you can save yourself time, money and stress. In Chilliprinting, you have a professional printing partner for your bulk poster print jobs. We guarantee you a fast fulfillment of your orders in high quality and at competitive prices. Check our bulk poster printing options for an overview of prices and make sure your print file fits the requirements of our cutting-edge poster print process from the beginning. For your convenience, you can download print templates, Adobe PDF job options and color profiles to easily create correct print files so your bulk poster job will turn out great.