Printing Considerations for Your Infographics - dummies

Printing Considerations for Your Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Unless you have professional printing equipment in your home or office, creating a professional-quality print of your infographic is a little more complicated than just clicking the Print command on your computer or printer. You have to take your work to a printing house, which entails being able to explain to the printer exactly what you want.

Speak to the folks at your printer ahead of time to see whether their shop has specific requirements for the digital file you’re printing from or certain limitations regarding what they’re able to do. You may want your infographic printed on a long banner for a medical sales booth, but they don’t have a printer that can handle the job.

Or, you may be banking on heavy card stock that they don’t have. You can save a great deal of time and effort if you’re prepared for such issues before you try to print your work, so the first step is always to talk to them about your needs.

Infographics print size

Obviously, the size of your poster or print can vary quite a bit. If you don’t have a specific requirement or a particular size in mind, you may find it helpful to consider one of the standard poster sizes you’ll find at most copy shops that do digital printing. The sizes in this table, which includes both inches and millimeters, are typically available.

Common Paper Sizes for Digital Printing
Inches (in) Millimeters (mm) Details
8.5 x 11 216 x 279 Basic letter size; used for flyers
11 x 17 279 x 432 Ledger size; good for small posters
18 x 24 457 x 610 Popular medium size for posters
24 x 36 610 x 914 Common size for large posters used in marketing
27 x 40 686 x 1016 Called “one sheet”; standard size for movie posters
in North America
36 x 48 914 x 1219 Very large poster (used for banners and the like)

By no means are you limited to the sizes in this table. In fact, if you’re hiring a professional printing house, the size you can print at is limited only by the size of its presses. Most will have no problem printing a poster up to 40″ (1,016mm) wide, not to mention any increment up to that width.

Also, because the paper for these presses comes in a roll, you can make the length essentially anything you want (with limitations, of course; talk to your printer).

If you find that neither digital printing nor a printing press suits your needs, and you require something capable of printing even larger, you can always seek out a large-format inkjet printer. In North America, commercial copy centers (such as FedEx Office and Staples) often have them, and they can print up to about 60″ (1,524mm) in width.

And again, because the paper used comes in a roll, the length available to you is virtually endless. Depending on the colors you use and what material you print on, price can range from about $7 to $30 per square foot.

These larger shops, or local sign-making businesses, are also a good option if you’re printing your work on a medium other than paper, such as mylar, canvas, or film positives.

Infographics image size/resolution

You need to size your graphic according to what the actual print size will be. You also need to know the print resolution in dots per inch (dpi). A publication like a newspaper typically prints at a resolution of 200 dpi or less, a regular magazine might print at 300 dpi, and a glossy magazine or photography book could print at a resolution of 2,400 dpi.

The decision depends on where your graphic will appear and how crisp and clear you want or need the image to be. Again, this is yet another topic to discuss with your printer before you send a file.

After determining the final print size and resolution, the graphic should be sized at 100% in the document for printing.

Infographics file format

Check what file types the printer accepts. Among the most widely used are AI, EPS, JPG/JPEG, and PDF files. The GIF format is good for basic web graphics with simple animation.

Several other types include PNG, which is good for smaller file sizes, as well as TIFF and BMP files. These less-common file types might have to be converted before you submit them.

Infographics fonts

One variable you should check with your printer is any nonstandard font that isn’t embedded in your infographic. If your printer doesn’t have that font, they can’t print your infographic as you designed it. If the font is embedded like an image, though, it won’t be an issue. You don’t have to worry about this with rasterized files, for example.

If the font isn’t embedded, you may have to include it with the file containing your infographic that you send to your printer. Be aware, however, that many nonstandard fonts are under license, which means that you’re technically not supposed to distribute them, regardless of whether you paid for the font.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to have a backup font in mind in case the printing issue can’t be quickly resolved.

Infographics print bleed

If your image goes to the edge of the poster or print, you need to be sure to extend your image past what will be its actual size. That extended print area is called “bleed,” and the printer trims off the extra, leaving a clean edge. What you don’t want is to end up with blank space between your infographic and the edge of the page or poster.

Bleed requirements vary by printer, but 3mm — about one-fifth of an inch — is generally the minimum.