How to Design for Print

Designing for print can be a complex and challenging task, but with the right approach, it can result in high-quality printed materials that stand out from the competition. To achieve this, it’s essential to understand your audience, choose the right materials, create a strong concept, and select colors, fonts, images, and graphics that complement each other and the message you want to convey.

Understanding Your Audience

Before you start designing, it is very important to have a clear understanding of your target audience. Who are you trying to reach with your print materials? What are their needs, interests, and preferences? Understanding your audience will help you to make informed decisions about the design, content, and format of your materials and layouts.

Large Margins for Breathing Room

Large margins play an important role in the overall appearance and impact of your design. They give your design a sense of elegance and sophistication, while also providing breathing room and a visual break from the content. This can help to improve readability, balance the design, and create a more professional look and feel. When setting margins, consider the size and format of your materials, as well as the content and intended use.

toner based design example

Toner-Based Printing Design Choices

Toner-based printing is recommended for short-run printing, and it’s best to use premium uncoated smooth paper for a clean and professional look. Uncoated Smooth paper is best utilized with light or no backgrounds and/or combinations.


The contrast between the toner-based ink and the paper is also crucial to consider. Light backgrounds and/or no backgrounds can show images and text with a sheen, while the paper appears more matte. The combination is the strongest attribute for toner-based printing.

Edge Treatment

All dark solid background are best avoided unless they are laminated. The edges can never look as clean as a white background. After cutting and handling by the client, small chips in the print may become very obvious.

Text Alignment 

When designing for print, it is also important to pay attention to the alignment of the text. Center justification and left justification can give a sense of balance and structure to the design, ensuring that all text lines up. This creates a polished and professional look. In most cases, just choose one or two fonts and make sure it is either centered or all lined up to the left.


Resolution refers to the amount of detail that can be captured in an image or graphic. When it comes to print design, a high resolution is essential to ensure that the final product looks sharp and clear. The standard resolution for print design is 300 dots per inch (dpi), as this provides the level of detail necessary to produce a high-quality print.

Saving Your File for Print

When exporting your print design, it is important to save it as a PDF with bleeds and crop marks. Bleeds refer to the extension of the design elements beyond the edge of the page, while crop marks indicate where the page should be trimmed. Including these elements in your PDF ensures that the final printed product will have a clean and professional look, with no white edges or unprinted areas. Refer to our File Format page for more details.


An Easier Path with Canva

Finally, we recommend paying attention to tools such as Canva to make the design process easier and more accessible. When using Canva, it’s important to adjust the size of the document and export it as a PDF with crop marks and bleeds to ensure the final product is of the highest quality.

By following this guide, we hope this will help you create high-quality print designs that effectively communicate your message and stand out from the competition.