I need Newspaper Design Guidelines For Dummies
March 14, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Help me make this one-time design job for a newspaper ad job go off without a hitch.

I have agreed to do a 2-page advertorial spread in the Sun newspaper. (in Canada--all Suns are the same, layout-wise)

I have experience with web design, and limited exposure to print.
(There is no getting out of this: I'm doing it as a favor for folks who understand my limitations.)

Beyond the fact that the format for submission is pdf, I don't know anything about the submission specs. I'm afraid the people I've contacted for specifics won't get back to me in time, so I'm asking here:

-is pdf/X-1a 2001 an acceptable standard for newsprint, when no standard has been given?
-there won't be bleeds, but should I crop right to the edge of my artwork or leave room? if so, how much?
-are there any newbie mistakes to watch out for in terms of file submission ( I will outline fonts and change colours to CMYK)?
-are there any newbie mistakes to watch out for in terms of colour or type size?

any help, graciously, gratefully appreciated!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First thing you should do is get off the internet and call their Production department. Seriously, every printer is a little different and it's best to talk to someone who will be outputting pages to figure out what they did. A warm body and voice is what you're looking for.

What software are you using to build this?

Putting small white type on a 4 color background could be asking for trouble. The colored inks will bleed into the white type and make the text hard to read. Avoid try to stick to 12 points and above for white type on a multi colored background

-there won't be bleeds, but should I crop right to the edge of my artwork or leave room? if so, how much?

Build to the exact size you've been given, no more, no less.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:48 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Please make sure your images have enough resolution. At least 240 dpi at size.

In case of any font embedding futziness, it is good to send a jpg of the finished product with as a "this is what it's supposed to look like" proof.

If you don't often work in cmyk, please understand that in newsprint, all inks experience a massive dot gain between 35% and 95%. So a color that is approaching a 280%-400% coverage has a good chance of looking like mud, and taking the surroundings with it. So, think simple and choose wisely!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 12:02 PM on March 14, 2012

Best answer: I'd guess a production person at the paper will probably drop your art into a layout program, so PDF (with embedded or outlined fonts, etc.) would be fine.

If they gave you the size, I'd design to that size — they won't have added the margins they always allow for in their regular deign.

If they use a traditional offset press, you might be aware of what's called registration, which basically means getting the CMYK plates to all line up right when printing the page. (bad registration looks like this. If you run small things/type in color, bad registration can make it unreadable. As Brandon Blatcher said, If you run small things or type reversed out of a color box, same thing. (I just went to look for an example of reversed type from pages I have online and I don't have one — because I didn't do it that often)

I'd assume, being professionals, they usually accomplish good registration. But if you want to take the risk out of it, be aware of those things.

Also, for black elements make sure they're "standard" or "flat" black, which is to say 0,0,0,100 (CMYK). "Rich" or "Registration" black is 100,100,100,0 and printers generally hate it.

But yeah, what Brandon Blatcher said: Call them. There's almost certainly an ad production department who can answer any questions. They hate screwed up artwork too, so they'd be happy to help you get it right the first time.
posted by brentajones at 12:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Echoing that you'll need to get the layout size from the paper's production department.
posted by Eicats at 1:43 PM on March 14, 2012

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