Some print design questions-small fonts, bleed

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by nicrose, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. nicrose macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Hi, I am creating a layout for an ad in the local newspaper and I have some issues:

    1. Can I use really small fonts like 10pt, 8pt, and 6pt? Will they be hard to read when printed for the newspaper? Will they look jagged or ugly? The ad is a 4" by 2" so I don't have a lot of room to use normal size fonts.
    2. Do I need to have bleed set for the ad? This is just a black and white ad, no color.
    3. What dpi should I use? It's for a newspaper, so I guess I should use 133dpi?? I've got it at 300 dpi right now, just in case.

    4. Why does the resolution of the photograph look so bad in InDesign? It's a tiff I placed into InDesign. Placing a psd instead does not improve quality.

    5. Why does the computer display the design at such a small size when I click on Actual Size? It's really difficult to tell what I'm doing when I'm at 100% because the document appears so small on the screen (It's a 4" by 2" document). I have to have the design at about 400% just to see the text clearly and edit it. And at that point the images that I placed into the document look very pixely.

    6. What's worse, when I printed to disk and distilled to pdf, my pdf looks so tiny. Again, I have to change the view to at least 200% in Acrobat in order to see the design clearly. How am I going to explain to my client why the image looks so bad? She certainly will want to have a better idea of what the image will really look like. Is there a way to do this? Or should she just print out the pdf on the computer?

    7. One of the images (the company logo) looks so bad that even at 100% actual size it appears blurry. Why is that? It's a part of the background image, which is a tiff.

    I'm using InDesign to make the layout, and Photoshop to deal with the images, in case you need to know.

    Thanks for your help.
    MBP user
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    1) Yes, but it depends on the typeface and how much copy there is. 10pt is not small... 6pt Frutiger will be more readable than 6pt Caslon, especially on newsprint. As a general rule, 7.3pt on our corporate font is the smallest I tend to go as many people have problems reading smaller, and even then I tend to use that for directories. Type should not be jaggy if set in Indesign or Illustrator.

    2) Set bleed if the specs have asked for it. If it's full-page, then yes. If not, then no... if not, the production people will either crop it or return it.

    3) 300ppi is fine for newsprint, maybe overkill, but these days file size is less important than it used to be.

    4) It's a preview only, not the file. Go to View>Display Performance>High Quality Display to see a high-res preview.

    5) I don't know. Always print out what you're working on and go by that.

    6 + 7) If you've used Distiller correctly then nothing should be lo-res. But logos ideally should be EPSs... if not, create and use a Distiller setting that downsamples images to 600ppi which will be fine for newsprint.
  3. nicrose thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    thanks blue velvet

    thank you blue velvet for your answers. Very helpful. I feel better already. I will use your answers tomorrow--for now it's time to sleep.


    ps: Is there a way to tell which fonts will print out okay on newsprint? Should I just print different font choices (at a small size) out on my printer and go by what the print output looks like when deciding which font to use? What did you mean on #2 that production people will "return it"? Give it back to me?
  4. ResonateMe macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2007
    2. Bleed has nothing to do with colour per sé. Bleed is added to a document as a run-off if colour goes of the edge of the design. It gives the printers and croppers a margin for error. If your ad is in the middle of the page it will not need bleed.

    3. I would use 300 dpi, though i'm sure for a newspaper that will be too much. you needn't worry about that though ;-)

    4. Indesign loads a preview of the image to save on computer resources. You can ctrl-click on each image and tell it to appear at a high quality preview.

    5. Your monitor runs a different resolution to print, so monitor size is not really equatable to physical size. as suggested above always print out.

    6. In a PDF txt should always appear clean, so you just need to adjust image resolution.

    7.Being a tiff does not mean it is good quality. it's just an image format. Ask for teh highest resolution image they have or something in vector format like ai, pdf, or eps.
  5. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    1. I wouldn't go below 7pt. If you still need more room, tweak other things: width of the letters, leading (typically should be 2pt extra, but you can get away with less than that), etc.

    2. For a newspaper, no. Bleed is only used if color goes to the edge of the sheet.. if this happens, then you actually need to print on a bigger sheet, and trim down to the desired size. This isn't for "margin of error" or anything of the sort: it's to do with the press. You'll make a big ole mess of the cylinders if you try putting ink on the edge of a sheet. In a newspaper, your ad will be compiled beforehand into a bigger layout (among other ads), and then obviously printed on a full-size sheet - so no, no bleed.

    3. Newspaper won't use anywhere near 300ppi, but that's probably not something we can help you with because the individual newspaper sets standards for itself. At 2x4, though, even 300ppi won't be too big a file to handle, so I wouldn't worry about it.

    4. InDesign decreases the quality of preview so as to increase the speed. Don't use that as an indication of the actual print: when you're done (or think you're done) with the layout, print out a copy and check what it looks like.

    5. Because there are 72 pixels per inch.. considering your monitor is probably of a decent res, 288 (4 inches) pixels is not going to take up very much room.

    6. See above. And print it out to view a "real size" copy.

    7. I'd print it out first and check what it really looks like. If it still looks terrible, ask for a higher res version. If you can't get that, then you'll just have to go with it. Fortunately, newspaper quality isn't all that great anyways, so you're not going to get magazine-quality no matter what you start with.

    Also, another thing to be aware of: dot gain. If you have any photographs or photo-quality artwork, lighten 'em up in Photoshop before sending them over. They'll look terrible to you now, but after printing for a newspaper, they'll darken up (and if you start with a "good" image now - it'll look terrible once printed).
  6. nicrose thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    thanks everyone

    thanks everybody for your helpful replies. I lightened my b/w photo like someone suggested.
    Changing to the maximum display performance did not help. I guess it's just too tiny a document to make it look good on screen. It looks much better in photoshop, though, than in InDesign.
  7. snickelfritz macrumors 65816


    Oct 24, 2003
    Tucson AZ
    Images for newsprint need to have the black and white output levels tweaked in Photoshop, to account for absorption (dot gain). 13 and 247 are good basic values to start with unless the press operator has more specific recommendations.
    This is not the same thing as "lightening up the image" which will usually just result in a washed-out, flat appearance.

    Is it possible that the logo you described in 7) is originally from a website or other low resolution source?
    I've had clients try to submit web-based graphics/logos/photos before, and they almost never look as good (and certainly not as big) in print as they do in a web browser at 1024x768.
  8. bigus7674 macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2005
    friendly advice for prepress..

    I have worked in the printing industry, both offset and flexograpy, for a total of almost 5 yrs between the two. One very important piece of advice that I can give anyone when it comes to prepress work (getting files ready to go to press) is this: if at all possible, contact the newspaper (or printer) and find out THEIR particular requirements. I have learned over the years that even within the label printing business, which is all flexography, that each place will have its own set of parameters, mostly due to their equipment plus their talent (ie press operators, etc).

    Rather than waste time going back and forth after you submit the artwork, contact them beforehand. This is good for two main reasons: 1) you get their specific requirements for submitting artwork and more importantly 2) it shows that you are willing to communicate and work with them to get them artwork that will require little-to-no work on their part, which they absolutely LOVE!

    Other key factors: 1. provide all fonts and graphics used in the design, even if the graphic is "embedded" still supply them in case some adjustments have to be made on their end, 2. make sure your images are in the color mode they need to be (cmyk for color and grayscale for b/w - you would be astonished as to how many jobs I've gotten from people where the images were set to be RGB grayscale images and not true grayscale). feel free to visit my website at this particular page where i have posted some prepress tips:
  9. Halcyon macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    Let me help clarify a common misconception.

    The dpi's and lpi's are two complete different things. The first (DPI's) is the resolution of your artwork and you will always be safe by setting it to 300 dpi's, unless the printer requests some other setting. The second (LPI's) is the screen ruling at which your artwork will be printed and it is directly relates to the printing method that will be employed and the surface on which it will be printed. As a general rule of thumb for offset printing: 80 - 100 lpi for neewspaper stock, 133 - 150 lpi for uncoated stock, 150 - 175 lpi for coated stock, 200+ lpi for high quality printing.


  10. nicrose thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Response to latest comments

    Thank you all once again. Big help.

    I will use level output to tweak the b and w for my newspaper ad.

    I also should say that changing the performance display did finally work for me the next day because I replaced the 72 dpi image with a 300 dpi image. Duh. I kept changing the image in the design from 72dpi to 300dpi because I was trying to e-mail a 72dpi web quality version of the ad so the customer could see it. So I probably got confused--I was tired. Plus I might have used some really crappy settings in Distiller--I created my own settings for the web in Distiller a long time ago and they must be pretty bad or something. Just don't want clients or others stealing my stuff so I really keep the quality low. Is that okay? Do you think customers mind when they get low quality rough drafts of things? Is there a way around that?

    Thank you.

    "Delta, delta, delta. Can I help ya, help ya, help ya?"

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