Do you know how to design for digital?

I’ve learned many times that the quality of what you get out of a digital press is only as good as what you put in. It can be easy to blame the printer for a poor looking file, but it could actually just be the result of a file designed incorrectly for that technology. When creative agencies are designing jobs for digital print, it is important to know there are many ways to maximize the full potential of digital printing equipment to ensure files are printed right the first time.
To help with this, we’ve created a guide that provides tips and techniques to help creative professionals set up their design applications and prepare their jobs for output. And we cover these top 5 topics:
1. Paper information and recommendations
2. Color settings and soft proofing devices
3. Design considerations for graphics, images, text and variable data jobs
4. Pre-flighting files and PDF creation Techniques
5. Print settings and finishing options
If you often find your files are not designed to the best quality, or are new to digital technology, or just looking to fine tune your skills, this Xerox Job Preparation Guide for Designers could be the tool to answer your questions.
I will send this design guide to the first 15 readers to comment on this post! What do you find the biggest design issues are when it comes to designing for digital, or what is something you are curious to learn more about?

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  1. John July 23, 2010 -

    Biggest challenge is ensuring the front to back registration is accurate. We need to accommodate the job differently for digital than offset where the tolerances are much tighter

  2. Tom Croteau July 23, 2010 -

    Lindsay, I couldn’t agree more. Lack of color management experience and the impact of choosing spot colors from the wrong resource (e.g., PANTONE solid swatch book, application software swatch palette, etc.) have led to the lion share of color output issues I have seen in the field.

    A properly calibrated/profiled workflow from soup to nuts will no doubt go a long way to consistent color. That said, understanding that image retouch is usually required when converting from a working space to the destination space for color-critical images, and that Photoshop allows for this in fairly easy fashion can further serve the cause.

  3. Lindsay Lamb July 23, 2010 -


    I’ve run into that issue many times myself. The registration will be off, and once I open the PDF up at the RIP I can see that the file isn’t lined up correctly. I usually end up making adjustments myself using image shift on the RIP or through alignment adjustment profiles on the printer’s UI, but it’d be nice if I didn’t have to spend that time making adjustments (especially because I always shift the image the wrong way first which just ends up wasting time, paper, and toner!)

  4. Daniel July 23, 2010 -

    I would love to have a copy of this guide to be able to pass the information along to our customers.

  5. Jose Asensi July 23, 2010 -

    RGB vs CMYK vs spot colors… All is possible to print, but who and when should it be converted to the final CMYK

  6. Ralph Levy July 23, 2010 -

    Just sold a 260 this afternoon to a new customer to Xerox – a large printing company and this is their first step into digital. I’m sure the design guide will be of help to them. I’m also adding them as a subscriber to the blog.

  7. Martin Manjolo July 24, 2010 -

    As a Xerox dealer in Africa we find that we are required to go that extra mile for our customers that do not initially understand the importance of creating “print-ready” files.
    Yes, digital printing is easy but does require the understanding of some key concepts… and some software tools to get you there. The Xerox Job Preparation Guide for Designers will certainly assist us in this regard.

  8. Zelwe Mwanza July 24, 2010 -

    Zelwe Mwanza on July 24, 2010

    Most creative houses know how to design but when it comes finishing and understand when and where to use RGBs or CYMK is a problem. Most of times its a Cd supplied job with the design text in the edge and its Tiff or Jpeg file. If they can start visualizing how the end product will look like, the better for both of us. Printing a spot colour on a digital press is a big problem. Can somebody shade more light how to print Spot colours. We are dealing with corporate colours like, one of the courier company i know which we failed on DC250 by using CYMK mode adding and adjusting.

  9. Darren July 24, 2010 -

    Just like 2 of the other people, when to use CMYK and hoe to print spot colors would be a big help. The other issue we see is that many people don’t understand that there are different sheet sizes for digital vs.offset.

  10. Lindsay Lamb July 24, 2010 -

    Jose, Zelwe, and Darren—
    It definitely sounds like RGB vs. CMYK is an issue. This design guide covers those kinds of color decisions, but I’m also thinking we could do a series of blog posts on that specific topic! I’ll see what I can put together to help you and your customers out 🙂

  11. Urvi Dutia July 24, 2010 -

    We are a quick print shop handling many different variety of customers day in & day out . Would appreciate a simple point wise formula , so that we could demand right set of input from the client . That should clear 75% of the problem relating to colour & file type .
    All the best !

  12. Bradley griggs July 24, 2010 -

    Over her in OZ we sit with this problem time and time again,the DTP prints a file and it come out wrong and the first thing they blame is the Digital printing press ,in my experience as a technician a large amount of incorrect file design issues arise as being a machine fault.It would be great to have a design guide handy for these customers

  13. Abe July 25, 2010 -

    I think that garbage in garbage out applies even more to digital printing.

    Having said that, we can most of the time fix supplied artwork, but getting all the technicalities to know is a bit daunting.

    About nailing the spot colors, I have the Advance color tool package, together with my Creo RIP I almost… get it.

  14. Josh Lindsay July 25, 2010 -

    Our biggest drama are poorly designed files for variable data processing.
    Often we are supplied image heavy files with transparencies and drop shadows on type. This blows out the processing time of the job and puts all job on hold while the Creo is processing.
    We have 2 machines (DC8000 & DCP700 ) and finding out how to get them printing similar to one another would be great.

  15. Bernie Meyer July 25, 2010 -

    I find it very frustrating that designers are not capable of designing for digital as opposed to offset. With the new color 1000 it would provide a great opportunity to educate designers in the art of designing for digital.

  16. Lindsay Lamb July 25, 2010 -

    I agree that there are great opportunities to educate designers with the Color 1000 Press out there now.

    We actually have a separate design guide for the Color 1000 since there is a lot of unique things you can do with Clear Dry Ink.

  17. Miguel Garcia July 26, 2010 -

    First of all, thanks for the guide. We are a digital print shop and is interesting for us how to say to our customers the best way at the time of design the jobs for better results.


  18. Hal Homler July 26, 2010 -

    Where can we learn more? I need to help educate my customers…

  19. Dana Scheller July 27, 2010 -

    Can I buy this somewhere. (Hal referred me here-thanks).

    • Lindsay Lamb July 27, 2010 -

      Hi Dana! I just checked out your website… very nice! I think this design guide will be useful for your business. I will send you an e-mail for your contact information so I can send this guide to you.

  20. Dirk Schmieg July 27, 2010 -

    Hi Lindsay, I know, I’m late. But very much interested where to get those “powerful” informations to give forward to my (our) customers. Could you give me a hint, please. Thank you very much and keep on going with this excellent blog.

  21. Sue July 28, 2010 -

    Hi Lindsay,
    Your blogs are always helpful and I appreciate all the info you communicate.
    Color is always an issue whether its offset or digital; but I find that many designers still do not understand how they can accomplish what they want with digital. Our company has an iGen3 and our clients love the color. But if you have something that we can pass along to new prospects, it would be helpful. And, if you have an extra copy of the guide, please forward as well. I’m for as much education as possible.

  22. Richard tytus July 28, 2010 -

    I have been a rep for Xerox almost 4 years, I worked in the photography industry for 30 years, I was surprised to find that so many printers, graphic designers had no clue about digital. I need to know where I can get the guide for my customers. please let me know.

  23. Lindsay Lamb July 28, 2010 -

    Hi Richard–

    As for where you can find this guide as a rep… we have an online ordering system. You may or may not have access to this, so I’ll send you an e-mail with more details on how you can order these guides for your customers.

  24. Charles Dickinson July 29, 2010 -

    Part of the confusion comes from the fact that many traditional print shops still advise customers to do their own CMYK conversions before file submission. For digital printing, this is a BAD IDEA.

    The PIA has a quick article that summarizes why much better than I can in the comments:

  25. Lindsay Lamb July 29, 2010 -

    Thanks for that link Charles. Color conversion seems to be a resonating topic for designers and print shops.

  26. Bill Santos August 3, 2010 -

    Variable data file conversions and spot color are the most common stumbling blocks. But a guide for CMYK and RGB conversions to digital are just as valuable for customers that are new to digitial printing. A guide for customers would be very helpful. Thank you!

  27. Kalpa August 14, 2010 -

    What about if Adjust the back side print in RIP . I want to know how to get this guide . Please give me detail . We are partner of Xerox India.

  28. Zelwe Mwanza August 15, 2010 -

    I want to comment on the Digital Printing, Litho and alignment of printing both sides on Xerox machines. You will enjoying printing on the digital printer if you have a rich background of litho printing because their guildelines to follow starting from artwork level upto finishing. Most noteable ones are working size, paper size, CYMK, margins, spot colour and finished size. Printing a spot colour in a digital print is very critical and you can print various copies without winining and what is painful, is to loss the client who you have been chasing for months to come on board. A guilde book for printing spot colours in the digital world is needed if we are to match with our partners in the Litho print. Alignment on Dc250 is easy just go to properties and image shifts, use negative and positives numbers for example X,Y -5 or 5 on the back and front unless there are other easy way that i can also learn from you. if you leave it as a default alignment, you will see that you are off by 3mm or 5mm hence, you will have a problem in trimming the work.

  29. John September 3, 2010 -

    Just wanted to say thanks for sending me the guide (have been a little busy so apologies for the delaying in coming back to you), quite a useful reference tool, thanks once again.

    • Lindsay Lamb September 7, 2010 -

      John– Thank you! I’m really glad you are finding the guide useful!

  30. Josh Malcolm September 10, 2010 -

    I know I’m a bit late, but any chance of a copy? 😀

  31. Raphael Coccia | Just Press Print September 24, 2010 -


    Thanks for spending the time to put this info up. With digital printing growing so rapidly it helps us print providers when we recieve files that are built correctly.

  32. carl October 1, 2010 -

    I would like a guide also thank you

    • Lindsay Lamb October 1, 2010 -

      Hi Carl! Have you found similar issues to those stated above when it comes to designing for digital?

      • Lindsay Lamb October 1, 2010 -

        Thank you to all who responded to this blog post! We are in the process of creating additional posts to touch on some of the areas you mentioned, so stay tuned! I will not be giving away any more design guides, but continue to read our blog for other business development tools!

  33. Chad January 14, 2014 -

    Found this a little late. Where can I get the design guide? sounds like it might have some good info?

  34. stephen March 2, 2014 -

    Im new in this business, please how can i get a copy.

Comments are closed.