Whenever I receive a delivery of brochures, leaflets or anything printed my heart rate increases. I love to see my designs in print, I can’t wait to get the box opened and see how it’s come out.

There’s another reason that you might be a bit nervous to open that box of brochures, you might be a little worried to see if you missed any errors when the printer sent you a proof. That assumes you received a proof, which you may not have if you chose a budget on-line printer.

It’s very rare I don’t spot something I might change if I was to print the item again, that’s often down to designer perfectionism. Perhaps I’d choose to leave a bit more space between a headline and the rest of the text or maybe an image could have been a little brighter.

Bigger errors can be more troubling.

7 or 8 years ago when I had a rush job on a brochure. I had just hours to design it before the printer needed it and we could it back in time to get it in the post to customers. It was a massive rush.

The job was printed and delivered, it looked great, but on the back, the phone number was wrong! This was doubly bad as folks who would receive the brochure needed to ring to book on a course. Oh and I didn’t find out until the bloke who ran a coach company got in touch and mentioned that people were ringing him to book some training.

Worst. Result. Ever.

We ironed it out and the coach owner was a decent chap who was happy to redirect folks to the real number. Also most people emailed in to book on the course and the training went very well, it could have been a lot worse!

Lesson learned and I’ve not put an incorrect number on a brochure since (I’m not superstitious so I won’t touch wood!).

So learn form my experience, here are my tips for avoiding errors in print:

1. Get a Printed Proof

There was a time when you wouldn’t have a choice. But with the advent of cheap web based printing services, hard copy proofs are becoming increasingly rare. Some printers will provide a PDF proof for you to check on screen but the very cheapest won’t supply anything.

If your printed article is important to your business, get a printed proof that you can hold in your hand and study up close. An extra advantage of a printed proof is that you can check the colours of your document. If you only ever see something on the screen, you might be surprised or disappointed with how the colours look in print. It’s down to printing being done in CMYK ink and screens showing colour in RGB (even if the document is set to CMYK).

2. Take Your Time

When checking proofs, take your time. Find a space to spread the proofs out and work through them slowly. If you rush you’ll miss things, even very obvious ones, so make a coffee and check very carefully.

3. Plan Ahead

If you plan ahead and schedule plenty of time to get your printing done then you can really save yourself a great deal of trouble. Leaving extra days or weeks to get your print job in can help ensure if you do spot any errors on your proof, there is time to correct it and get a 2nd proof (maybe by PDF this time as you’ve seen the colours etc). This extra time will also mean you can spend longer looking at the proof and not rush and miss something.

4. Triple Check Contact Details

Your contact information is the brochures coalface. If there is an error on a phone number email address or website, the investment may be for nothing as those who you’ve reached won’t be able to get in touch.

Have you heard the apocryphal story of Argos? It goes that the retailer produced the latest batch of their catalogue, whose print run must go into the hundreds of thousands. In the back of the catalogue they listed the phone numbers for local stores, but they missed a ‘0’ of ALL the freephones..

The only positive that came from it was that the local authority of the Argos head office gained a real boost int their recycling targets.

So check, check and check contact details again!

5. Make Friends with a Good Speller

And ask them to look at your proof. Another set of eyes will often spot things you’ve missed. As an added bonus if they are good at spelling they can spot mistake that both you and ‘SpellCheck’ have missed.

6. Go Local

Don’t automatically jump on-line to get printing quotes. Create relationships with a few local printers, the kind of people you can talk too and meet up with. Not only will they be able to hand deliver proofs quickly or collect artwork on disc, but they’ll also look out for you. More than once my printer has spotted an error I’ve missed even after proofing, giving me chance to correct it. They look after me and know I’ll use them again.

A local contact can also advise on all sorts of print aspects. For example, if you choose a paper weight of over about 200gsm for a job, then you may need to get it creased before folding. Not an issue in any way, creasing is a pretty regular process but it will cost a touch more. Selecting a slightly lighter paper will save the creasing process and save a little money too. That’s knowledge for you.

7. Don’t Buy on Price

You do this for anything do you? Don’t do it for printing. Cheap printing can do the job but as a rule will offer:

- Lower printing quality, colours may look washed out;

- Slower service as everything is done at a distance and they often don’t print until the sheet is full (this is how small run business cards can be so cheap, the printer waits until they’ve enough orders to fill a massive sheet of paper before printing the lot together);

- There may be no proof to check against and finally little route to recourse if something does go wrong.

I hope these tips can help encourage you to take a step into getting some print for your business, if you want to get some sorted, do get in touch, call 01332 416446 or email me to chat it over.

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