When Should I Use a Professional Printer?

Posted by AustinPhillips on October 9, 2012

A question commonly asked of designers is this: If given the design files, can I manage the print process myself? This is a great question, and the answer really depends on the individual’s situation.

Here are two questions to consider in order to decide if this is a good idea:

  • Do you have the correct programs to open and prepare the files for printing?
  • Do you understand how to set up a file to print, including color profiles of images, bleeds and crop marks?

If the answer to these is “yes,” then you’re prepared to send print-ready files to the printer. If the answer is “no” to either of the above questions, then it won’t be possible to prepare the design files for print.

However, all of this is only one part of the equation.

The other part happens after the files have been prepared for print, received by the printer and the first proof is hot off the press. At this point, all of the images, color and typography will need to be reviewed for consistency. In many cases, the photos and graphics will need color adjustments in order to ensure consistency. Once color corrections have been made, the files can then be re-sent to the printer.

It’s clear that a lot of things happen after a design is completed to actually get a finished and printed brochure. If you feel comfortable completing each of these steps, then printing a project on your own might be a good idea. If you’re confused by any of these steps, or if you don’t have the software, then it might be a better idea to let an agency or design firm take care of the entire printing process from start to finish.

Have you managed your own print process before? What was the outcome? Tell us about it in the comments section below or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.