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Practical points for producing perfect publications
Part 5 - Colour and print set up

December 2018

The final instalment of our blog about Practical Points for Producing Perfect Publications looks at colour and print set-up and, provides some practical advice about software and publishing online magazines.


Colour and print set up

Make sure your magazine is set up for the medium it will be delivered on.

If your magazine is to be printed then consider the following points;

  • Allow bleeds on your artwork. This is where any colour or image that should be printed to the edge of the page is continued over by 3mm.
  • Be careful not to have any text too close to the edge of the page.
  • Consider the number of pages. All publications are printed in multiples of 4 pages. But it may be more economical to produce your magazine in multiples of 8, 16 or 32. Ask your printer for advise. Magazines are printed on large sheets of paper and are then cut down and bound together. Printing the optimum number of pages will reduce waste and saves on costs.

  • All full colour litho and digital printing is printed in four colours (CYMK) – a mix of cyan, yellow, magenta and black. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is for online use only.
  • If you’ve used Pantone colours in your publication then you will need to convert them to CYMK before printing in full colour unless you are printing the Pantone colour as an extra colour.
  • Magazines that have a particular Pantone colour for their masthead, for example, may opt to print an extra colour to ensure consistency across all publications. Bear in mind that this may incur extra production costs.
  • Colours like orange don't print particularly well in CYMK. If orange is one of your main colours then you may choose to print with an additional Pantone colour.
  • Make sure that any illustrations or photographs are also converted to CYMK before you place them in your publication. Use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator or similar image editing software to convert the images to CYMK.

  • Make sure that all your images are high resolution. For print, all images, photographs or illustrations should be at least 300dpi (dots per inch) at the size you are going to use them. This will ensure that your image will print sharply.
  • Save your files in an appropriate format. Use JPGs for photographs. PNG files can be used where you need a transparent background, and EPS files are good for vector graphics created in Illustrator.
  • Avoid using images taken from websites. These will be RGB images at 72dpi and will look pixelated or blurry with distorted colour when printed.
  • Ask your printer how they would like the artwork supplied. Some printers like to have all the source files and others prefer to receive a PDF (portable document format) with the typefaces and images embedded.
  • If supplying a PDF then you should add bleed and crop marks. The PDF should be set up in single pages rather than spreads.


Online publications

If you are preparing your artwork for publication on an online platform such as Issuu then make sure you follow their guidelines. They don’t require bleed or crop marks. And, again, should be set up in PDF format as single pages.

Amazon’s Kindles Direct publishing service is good for producing magazines that are printed to order.



A subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud will give you everything you require to produce a magazine for print or online publication including access to the Adobe type library.

  • Costs are from around £50 per user a month.
  • Use Adobe InDesign with its powerful text editing functionality to create beautiful page layouts.
  • Adobe Illustrator can be used to create illustrations, infographics and charts.
  • Adobe Photoshop can be used to retouch and re-size images for publication. Use Photoshop to convert images from RGB or other formats to CYMK for printing.
  • Adobe Acrobat can be used for preparing your PDF artwork for printed or online publications.


Resources – learn more…

So you want to publish a magazine – Angharad Lewis

Magazine Designs That Work, Stacey King

Making and breaking the grid, Timothy Samara


We’d love to help you with your magazine, in-house newsletter or publication.
Please get in touch to arrange a meeting with our knowledgeable designers.

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Call us now on 01382 201171

Blog Topics


Practical points for producing perfect publications
Part 1 - Cover Stories

Part 2 - Page Furniture

Part 3 - Typography

Part 4 - Images and layouts

Part 5 - Colour and print set up

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