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3-Ring Binder Design Issues To Watch For

We are happy to answer the FAQ’s when it comes to designing your binder

… and give you some valuable tips for laying out your artwork.

Your binder project usually starts of with finding the best print manufacturer for your needs

Getting a high quality 3-ring binder requires the right equipment, knowledge and capabilities. Be sure you understand how your binder manufacturer will make your binders. Is it three pieces held together by tape or printed paper? Is it one board that is routed or will the hinges be pressed into the board? The way your binder is constructed affects its durability and determines how well they will work. Learn more about the strongest binder construction here!
Your printer should have the knowledge you need to help you navigate the options, styles and paper stocks and the capabilities to manufacture your 3-ring binder so that you can concentrate on designing brilliant artwork for your client. Make sure your print manufacturer has great templates, skills and produces the quality you need and want.

Design and printing issues

After you’ve determined the dimensions of your binder, ring size and ring style, the next step will be laying out your artwork on the custom template provided to you.

PMS colors

While printing 4 color is great for photos, if you absolutely, positively need to match a PMS color for your brand, you may want to use 4-color process plus a spot color PMS. Why? CMYK works on a building process, laying down four colors separately. Because of this, there can be some color variation meaning it is not as accurate as a PMS color. If you have some full color AND match a PMS, consider adding that PMS spot color to ensure your custom binders match everything from your website to your truck fleet.

Printing your liner

Does it cost more to print the inside liner of your 3-ring binder? Not at all. Don’t waste the space, continue your branding on the inside also – free of charge with your offset printed binders.

Designing to the edge

Why do you need to push your design outside of the template edge? There is a 1/16th of an inch of possible shift in trimming and manufacturing. Without allowing for a 1/8th inch bleed you may end up with a small bit of white space on your binder.

Readability on the shelf

How does your binder read on the shelf? In the U.S., book spines read one way. In Europe another. Since we do not know the end client or use for your binders, we may not always catch it if your text reads the wrong direction. Quick check: In the U.S. you tilt your head to the right to read books on the shelf, in Europe to the left.

Sizing your text and designs

How small can your lines and text go? In offset printing, if you are reversing out type or putting lines in color fields, maybe not as small as you think. Dot gain can affect your end result. If you have very fine line reversed type, ask your printer how small you can go. If you are printing digitally, a good rule of thumb is, if it is legible, it should be fine.

Binder elements and your artwork

Rivets. Rivets hold the binder mechanism in the binder and they show on the outside of the binder. They are marked on the template, but sometimes get covered up by your artwork, especially with dark colors. Make sure information and important design elements are not covered by the rivets. Also, if your artwork is black or dark, consider black rivets!

Hinges. Don’t drop you text and information into the hinges of the binder. Leave some space to ensure legibility. If you are working on a round back binder, consider keeping the fonts large enough to stay legible.

The edge of the binder. Again, make sure there is a little space around folds to ensure information is not lost. If you want to have your info or design hit right at an edge, you may want to talk to our pre-press folks when you send in your job to ensure everything is where you want it.

Sending your artwork

Are your images print ready? There are a few points to cover on this one, so we will just touch the most common issues.

Image sizing / low resolution images

If you are using a place holder or low resolution image while designing your 3-ring binder, don’t forget to put the original image in and check it before you send. All images should be sized to fit and at least 300 dpi at the size they are printing. Remember, resizing a small photo does not add the information you need for a clear image.

CMYK, PMS and RGB files

If you are printing in full color, you will need to send CMYK files. If you send RGB files, they will need to be converted by us which can lead to possible color discrepancies. This is also true if you are matching a PMS color with CMYK. Creating in the proper format and doing the adjustments in your design studio will ensure you get what you want.

Using the template

Make sure you use the template at 100%. Often, while working on design possibilities, designers will resize the template to fit artwork. Forgetting to create your design based on the actual size of the template will result in issues when your binder is crafted. A quick check can save a costly mistake.

Did you send all the files we need?

The design you send to your printer might look fine on your own screen, but remember that your printer does not have access to the files on your computer. If you forget to send your linked artwork files, the version your printer looks at will have big holes in it.

Don’t forget the fonts! Even if you rastorized the fonts, sent them anyway, in case any last minute changes have to be made.

f you are sending a PDF for a digital print job, everything should be included, so you don’t need to include fonts. We can not adjust your PDF files, so double check everything! We will print exactly what you send.

Reviewing your artwork and proof

Before sending your artwork, review placement if text, pocket art, card cuts, and always check for spelling or typing errors. While this seems obvious, remember, we don’t know your client’s phone number so we will not know if it is wrong.

Before we print a job, we will send you a proof (offset printing). This is your last chance to make sure this was your final version of artwork or find other issues you may not have seen before. If you are printing digitally, there is no proofing process, so double and triple check before you send.

A few quick things to check for:

  • Does your spine text read correctly (compare with your bookshelf – in Europe spines read differently than in the U.S.)?
  • Do the rivets cover information or design you need to see?
  • Did you leave any placeholder text (especially phone number and address) that was not updated?
  • Does the art sit on the template as you envisioned?
  • Do your important elements sit far enough from hinges and edges to be seen?
  • Is the text correct? Spelling and check websites and phone numbers.

Compare the proof with what’s on your computer and what you have been sending your clients. If something seems odd, talk to us and let’s fix it now. It is a lot cheaper than reprinting. If you are unsure of something (placement, color, why something is not showing up…), talk to us. It may be an easy fix that can keep the project on schedule!

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