How to Prepare Your File and Your Printer for Optimal Printing

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Whether you need to print out a resume, a presentation, a full-color brochure, a photograph, or anything else, you can obtain high-quality results using nearly any inkjet printer. The trick is knowing how to prepare your file and your printer for optimal printing. Here are a few tips and tricks to ensure that your next print project turns out how you hope.

Prepare Your Document for Print

If you plan on printing your document, prepare it for print at the start of your design process. Think carefully about what software you should use. Programs like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign, and CorelDRAW are all good choices that allow you to create dynamic layouts and optimize your files for print.

Be sure to include a bleed or extra space around the perimeter of your document that extends past the edges. This helps minimize the visibility of any minor errors that may occur during trimming after your document is printed.

If you are creating a document that will be folded—such as a tri-fold brochure—determine exactly where the folds will be. Place guides in your digital layout to mark their location. This will help you create a design that will work well once printed.

Set Up Reader’s Spreads

When printing a multi-page document, such as a book or pamphlet, set up reader’s spreads, as opposed to printer’s spreads. While you may be tempted to set up your file in a manner that allows you to visualize how it will be printed, it is much easier to set up your document as reader’s spreads.

Also, when setting up a multi-page document, include blank pages. Plenty of books and reports include blank pages, and it’s easier to make sense of where they belong in multi-page documents if you include them when preparing your file.

Brochure design

Maximize the Resolution of Graphics

If your file contains images, you want to be sure that they will look crisp on the printed page. Choose high-resolution graphics in formats that are appropriate for print. PNG, JPEG, and TIFF bitmap images don’t always print well because resizing can cause pixelation. For the highest quality of prints, use vector graphics with EPS or Illustrator file formats.

If you do have to use bitmap graphics, pay close attention to the dots per inch, or DPI. The higher the DPI, the better quality the printed image will be. Be careful if you need to resize. Scaling up will likely reduce your image’s quality significantly.

Get Your Printer Settings Right

When you have finished designing your document and you are ready to print, it is not quite as simple as just clicking the print button. You still need to make sure your printer settings are correct to ensure optimal output. In your print dialog window, choose what type of paper you are using.

If you are printing a glossy photograph, for example, you need to let the printer know that you are using photo paper, as opposed to regular inkjet paper. Check the quality, too. Using 300 DPI is standard, but you may want to go higher for photographs and image-heavy documents. Printing with 150 DPI is often acceptable for text-based documents, but you should never go lower.

Each printer has its own options and features. Spend some time checking out all of the options in your print dialogue window, and feel free to experiment to determine which settings yield the best results for your project.

Multiple printer cartrigdes

Use the Right Ink

The right ink is important when it comes to ensuring optimal printing. If your printer ink cartridges are old or running low on ink, the quality of your print can suffer tremendously. Streaky images and incorrect colors are common signs that something isn’t right with your printer ink. If you are working on something important, it is worth the money to buy new ink cartridges to ensure that your finished project looks how it should.


Designing a file for print can be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty straightforward. Getting your printer settings right is easy, too, after you’ve familiarized yourself with all the options. With fresh printer ink and a bit of practice, you can create all sorts of high-quality printouts using your own inkjet printer.