Graphic designers are known for their attention to detail. They are trained to look for the “little things” that the average Joe would typically miss. But just because these items are “little”, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant! In fact, they’re the very details that ensure printed files look professional.

Here are a few common mistakes an untrained eye might miss, but a good graphic designer will catch and correct every time:

Improper kerning

When you type in the number “1”, it always looks like it has extra space around it, relative to the other numbers. Adjusting the kerning (the space between characters) to bring it closer to the other numbers gives it a more polished look.

kerning numbers

Widows and orphans at the end of paragraphs

A widow is a line at the end of a paragraph that gets pushed to the top of the next column in a document. An orphan is a word or very short line of text at the end of a paragraph that is all by itself on its own line (like the word “both” in the left image below). Adjust the copy so you don’t have any single words ending a paragraph.

widows in graphic design

Inch marks vs. quotes

It’s a common mistake to use quote marks instead of inch marks when referring to a measurement. Your designer should know to always use inch marks when referring to measurements.

Inch marks VS quote marks

Converting Pantone® colors to CMYK

This one is a little tougher. When converting PMS colors to CMYK, designers should always use a Pantone® Color Matching Book (with CMYK conversion) to show you how the color will look when printed. Very rarely it will look exactly the same, but your designer can adjust the CMYK to get it to look closer to the correct color.

PMS to CMYK color conversion

Low-res vs. high-res images

Always use high-res images (300 dpi or higher) in your printed files. Dpi stands for dots per inch. If you look very closely at a printed photo, say through a magnifying glass, you can see the ink dots that make up the image. The more dots the picture has, the harder it is to see them. The image on the left is less than 300 dpi (low res) so it gets blurry when it’s printed. However, the image on the right is 300 dpi (or high res) so it looks clear and sharp.

High-res VS low-res imagery

As Charles Eames said, “Details aren’t details, they make the design.” And an eye for detail is exactly what a good graphic designer provides to his or her clients. If you (or your designer) don’t triple check files for these issues, your audience is going to notice that something is off. The goal is to give the viewer the best experience possible.

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