Designing for Digital Printing

Digital printing allows printers and designers unequaled flexibility, even so some designs may need to be changed to meet the file set up required for digital presses. Digital printers have pretty specific paper requirements, and considering the investment made by the press shop I can understand why. You should check with your printer to choose the right paper for your job. Some things they’ll think about are grain direction, ink type, and print technique. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind that will make designing for digital printing a bit easier.

Talk about the file set up first. Special considerations should be made for folding, binding, scoring, and die-cutting.

Use a standard size whenever possible. Digital sheets are precision cut for optimal performance preventing problems with registration, alignment, and ink transfer. As a converter of digital papers for many paper manufacturers (our Deltacraft division offers this service) a precision sheeter (vs. guillotine) insures against slitter dust – which can wreck havoc on a digital press, not to mention your project!

Prevent toner flaking by keeping your coverage to 280%. More than that may increase drying times and cause offsetting.

Beware of solids – large areas of solid color or gradients tend to show mottle or banding. If you must use solids, consult with your printer to see about the filtering techniques you can use.

Since make ready is virtually non-existent in digital printing, you can have your proofs done on the actual paper spec’d, allowing for adjustments before the run.

A sample is your best friend. With all the inline finishing available, getting your printer a mock up will insure correct file set up and find any hidden design issue before you go to press.

One of the best pieces I’ve seen come out recently is from Domtar, it’s entitled “The Domtar Digital Family – Digital Field Guide.” It gives you a snapshot of the equipment that’s out there, as well as the Domtar papers that are approved for each type of equipment – plus it shows off a really cool print technique utilizing dimensional ink. Get your copy while they last in our sample department.


  1. Yes, the digital printing allows the printers and designers unequaled flexibility, even so some designs may need to be changed. Digital printers have pretty specific paper requirements and considering. your information is very great and impressed with your information. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. "Talk about the file set up first." - The image/file should be set accordingly, with enough space for cutting and/or binding. Paper size and quality must also be set to get quality prints, and sometimes, the image resolution should be changed in order for the printer to print a high quality image. Too large or too small, and the image may come out pixelated. Print out a sample first so you can make the necessary corrections, to the image size, resolution, or type of paper, if need be.

  3. I had no idea that it required a special kind of paper. I was going to have some digital printing done, but didn't know I had to provide different kinds of paper. I'll have to call my printer and see what is needed. Thanks for the heads up!