i should be mopping the floor: Printing Printables: Getting the Most Out of Your Download

Friday, May 25, 2012

Printing Printables: Getting the Most Out of Your Download

I have received a lot of emails on this subject, so I thought it might be time to create a post about printable printing. While it may seem like a no brainer, there's a few steps you can take to ensure you get fantastic, professional prints that were free to download.

I'll be using the recent Kitchen Conversion Printable I released last week as an example in most of my images.



First, I'd like to chat about actual printables and where all they come from and what they should be. I really, really hope I don't step on any toes here, but I am a bit picky about printables. While it's easy for anyone to create these as a great marketing/traffic tool for one's blog, there does need to be a bit of know-how to create one that will print with good results versus mediocre.

I get a little sad when I see a blog advertising their "fast downloads" for printables. 9 out of 10 times, a fast download means it was created as a low resolution image for quicker load/download times. I've even seen some market "72 ppi/dpi" as a good thing for a printable. This just frustrates me. Not to be a print snob {and maybe I am, feel free to call me out on it}, but this is one area I have a lot of experience in and am very passionate about. My bachelor's degree was in graphic design and I've worked in the graphics industry in many capacities. In many cases, I had to learn the hard way regarding the details involved in print. But, it was worth it!

To set the record straight, once and for all:
- Low res images are for web-based resolution...meaning to look at on a computer screen, etc. They are not meant to be printed and will be grainy and fuzzy if printed.
- High res images are for printing. You need "more" resolution to tell your printer that the image needs more ink, that's a round about way of explaining it {rather poorly, actually}. Higher resolution produces more pixels per inch that are filled with color on your image.

Low res= 72 dpi/ppi
High res= 300 dpi/ppi

With free image editing software widely available, I've just noticed a lot of folks out there marketing their own printables under the low res cloud. While it's fine to create a printable in one of these applications, just bump up your size to get good results.

Also, be sure to look for PDFs versus JPEGs in your printables. JPEGs are great for photos and such. But, a PDF will keep the true size of your printable. I did a test run once to see the difference of a printable in both formats. When the JPEG printed, it was significantly smaller than the PDF. You'll know it's a PDF once you've downloaded it and the name of the file ends in ".PDF" instead of ".jpg" or "jpeg". I try to use JPEGS for web images and photos only. You'll notice on the screen shot above that there are two separate files...three actually, for my Mother's Day Printable. One is the preview image that I post on this web site so you can see what you're getting, the other is the PDF that I upload to my upload service that you in turn download. That third PSD file is what I work off of...it's nice to save those in case changes arise. And yes, it's time to clean up my desktop! ;)

Where to print?


I never print at home...honestly, it's more cost effective not to. The cost of my ink cartridges is getting close to the $100 mark {ouch}, and I just can't fathom spending that more often than I already have to. And when I have printed at home, the above results show that it's just not worth it. And look at all that ink I used!

My two go-to places for printing are Staples and Kinko's. There's lots of awesome print shops out there, but for my area and to print a printable super fast, these work great for me.

For the quickest results, I upload printables from my computer directly to the store. This saves mucho time on the pick up end. I hate waiting in line. Whenever I walk in, my order is ready and I'm in & out in no time.

This is the part that I get the most emails about...how do you upload to a printing company?

I'm showing you the site for Staples, but Kinko's site, as well as many others are super similar. {BTW, I'm in no way being endorsed by Staples for this...throwing this in for legal clarification and all that mumbo jumbo}.

Once you've downloaded a printable, save it somewhere easy to access on your computer.

Get started by going to your printer's website. You can probably find it via Google. Here's quick links to some of the most widely used ones:

48 Hour Print {This is an online company without a store front in most cities, so you will need to factor in shipping. It is a WONDERFUL company with OUTSTANDING results, though. I use them for my holiday postcards every year and am giddy with how wonderfully professional they come out. Their site is a bit more involved in that you're dealing with proofs and templates, but if you can utilize this company, they're AWESOME!}

Once you've created a new document, you'll upload from where ever you've saved your printable. 

If you're using a proper high-res printable, uploading may take a few minutes. 
Be patient...it's definitely worth it!

Your site will let you customize your printable. You can choose card stock, have it laminated, etc. Just select the boxes for the options you like. The possibilities are endless. Just laminating a printable makes it dry erase friendly! {BTW, I highly recommend the laminating at FedEx. It's quality is significantly better than other places.}


And lookie, lookie....printing at a printer is not too expensive. And you truly can't beat their quality. The paper is nicer, the ink is shiny and laid on evenly....I could go on & on. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll try to answer within the comments section.

Here's a few examples of printed printables {done at the places I mentioned above}:

Look at the great colors in this one...I could have even laminated it and put magnets on the back to attach it as a fridge dry erase sign. And can you see the slight overlay that allows the graphic background to show through the white? That effect tends to print on the grey-er side on a lot of home printers.

And this one...those rainbow colors came out great thanks to FedEx office. It was a very color-saturated printable so my printer would have blown through a cartridge with the sheer amount of ink on this one!

If you're interested in any of my free printables, please click here.
Thanks so much for stopping by today!









18 comments:

  1. This was very informative, Kristi! Thanks for sharing!

    Now, I will have to go back to the one printable that I made and see how I did with resolution etc. since I didn't know about any of these tips before!

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  2. Great post.. Very help! I have never heard about the 48 hour print. I'm going to bookmark this post, for next time I need qualitative approach. :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. I've been wanting to print some things that I've found but didn't know how to go about getting high quality prints. Your tips were very helpful!

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  4. I clicked on this out of interest im what you would say, not need as I too was in graphic industry...you did an amazing, comprehensive, and informative article! Very important when people have such easy access to design software to know a little about output! Thanks!

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  5. I clicked on this out of interest im what you would say, not need as I too was in graphic industry...you did an amazing, comprehensive, and informative article! Very important when people have such easy access to design software to know a little about output! Thanks!

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  6. I clicked on this out of interest im what you would say, not need as I too was in graphic industry...you did an amazing, comprehensive, and informative article! Very important when people have such easy access to design software to know a little about output! Thanks!

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  7. Wow...the difference in print quality is amazing. Thanks for the tips. I would love to have you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesday next week on Cornerstone Confessions.

    Hopping over from Serenity Now.

    Kathy

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  8. I too am a bit of a print snob. I used to work in an office where I was in charge of creating all the handbooks and update sheets and blah blah blah... If I'm going to get paid to create these things I want them to be of quality.

    You did an excellent job in explaining this.

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  9. I discovered printing at home is way too costly this year as well! Sad but true. Love the colors! :-)

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  10. Thank you, this is so helpful. I had no idea I could download to print at a store!

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  11. Thank you even though you are quite condescending to the elderly.

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  12. Thank you so much. I don't have your experience and have been very frustrated by "free printables" and the mostly terrible results I get on my home computer. I am so excited to try uploading to a print store and seeing the results. Thanks Thanks Thanks

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  13. THANK YOU!!! I have no idea why it was so hard for me to grasp the concept of a retail FTP site, but it was and you bailed me out! Thanks!

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  14. What kind of paper do you usually print on?

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  15. Love this post, so thankful for sharing informative tip,BTW your also funny! I just came across your blog today and now loving it, will read your past posts,Your Awesome, glad I found you! Keep up the great work!

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  16. You are a GEM. I always like looking at bloggers printables but never knew how to get them as I have laser printers for my business and nothing color and don't normally need a color printer. When I do I take it to the office next door & they print for me but I would feel like a heel asking them to print things like printables. I just never thought to use officemax or fedex to print them. Now I am going to be a maniac... whoohoo!

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  17. I have received a lot of emails on this subject, so I thought it might be time to create a post about printable printing. While it may seem like a no brainer, there's a few steps you can take to ensure you get fantastic. commercial printing Chicago

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    ReplyDelete