Avoiding Fuzzy Four-Color Type
Printing small type in more than one
color can be a nightmare for printers. Keeping the type
in register throughout the run is challenging and often
impossible. For you, this means fuzzy type that looks bad.
You can minimize this risk in the following
way. Whenever possible, print small type in one color. Failing
that, print the type in two colors, but make one of them
a very light color. An example of this would be a color
made up of 100 percent magenta and 100 percent yellow. If
the yellow is out of register, only a trained eye with a
loupe will see it.
You can also minimize problems by setting
small type in a sans serif face. Helvetica Bold type, for
instance, set even at 7 pt. in 100 percent magenta and 100
percent yellow will be clearer than Garamond set at the
same size in the same colors because of the absence of serifs
and thin stems. As a rule, avoid setting multi-colored type
smaller than 10 pt.
If you have the budget and are already
printing on a five or six unit press, consider printing
the small type, rules, and reverse type (and any other elements)
in a PMS color rather than a process color build. Keep in
mind that this can add significantly to the final cost if
it requires your printing on a larger, more complex press.
Printing on Envelopes
Printing solids or halftones on envelopes
can cause problems because at different parts of the envelope
the press will be printing on one, two, or even three layers
of paper. This can easily result in uneven ink coverage
or painfully visible creases through parts of your halftones.
To avoid this you have at least two
options. The less costly is to position the entire solid,
halftone, or screen on a part of the envelope with a consistent
number of layers. Particularly avoid the seams, and make
a paper dummy, taping your laser printer output to an envelope,
to make sure you have positioned elements away from folds.
If this is not an option, considering
printing on a flat sheet and converting the sheet into an
envelope. Keep in mind that this will cost more and will
take longer. Many of the promotional pieces you receive
in the mail in envelopes made of a gloss stock and printed
in process colors with solids bleeding on all sides were
printed first and then converted into envelopes. This option
can yield a superior product.
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]