MSM Print

Designing for Print


Bleed is the term for printing that extends past the edge of the paper before trimming. For bleed to look proper, set design software at .25” to .5” of bleed. Extend backgrounds, artwork and images to this line throughout your printed piece. This will ensure that once the piece hits the trimmer, any slight variations in cutting will not mean that there are unsightly gaps of color along the edges of your piece.

Correct Color

Achieving accurate color once your piece is printed can be tricky. In short, what you see on screen isn’t always what you get on paper—your monitor can (and will) deceive you. Why is this? Simply put, it’s the difference between three-color values and four.

  • Your computer monitor displays colors by combining the colors red, green and blue (RGB) to make up every other color.
  • Offset printing, however, creates all the same colors by combining together cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).

So what we have are two different methodologies that do not translate perfectly from one to the other, and thus, errors can occur.

Color Correcting Tips

  • Expect Variation. No matter what you do, print color will always be something that will need extreme attention and adjusting.
  • Never trust your monitor. Even with the best monitor, you will not get truly perfect color reproduction from monitor to press. Remember RGB is your monitor’s color usage, while you are going to print CMYK.
  • Use Pantone® colors (available in swatch books). Color and Ink Bibles can also be resources for creating more accurate color output.
  • Request a Color-Correct proof. If accurate color is critical to the job, a color-correct proof can give a good idea of what a piece might look like.
  • Calibrate your computer monitor. There are plenty of ways to do this, from expensive color calibration hardware to simply adjusting system settings on your computer.


Never use the overprint setting for offset printing. This is a trapping feature for printers (see below). Overprint is removed from files during the preflight process—for all colors except black. If used as an effect, your job will not print as expected. Instead, it is best to use transparency settings to create special effects.


We highly recommend Adobe® InDesign or Quark® XPress for page layouts. Not all software is appropriate for print production. Programs like Microsoft® Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe® Photoshop and Illustrator should never be used for the purpose of page layouts.


When you print with MSM, we adjust trapping settings during the preflighting process. However, as a print designer, is it important to understand the concept.

Trapping is the process of slightly overlapping inks where two solid colors meet. This technique helps to compensate for any paper shrink or movement on the press that may cause slight mis-registration. If you do not trap and there is any off-registration, then you may see tiny white lines where the inks did not match up properly—like in Sunday comics when you can see the separation of colors.

Simply put, what you are doing when you trap is assigning a stroke that will overprint (ie- print on top of all other colors in the job). The width of this stroke (usually between .18 points and 1 point) falls halfway onto both inks. With the magic of trapping, if there is a slight shift in the paper or shrinkage, the overprinting stroke will seamlessly fill the gap.

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