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FLEXO Magazine : July 2011
Technologies & Techniques Clean Type & Clear Communication Cost-efficient, Consistent, effective Packaging Delivery Made simple By Tom newmaster Did you ever walk over to a retail shelf looking for some- thing, stand there for a few moments searching and then find out it was right in front of you the whole time? Who hasn’t? If the experience can’t be blamed on having too much on your mind, it’s apt to be the result of bad package design or, a designer not understanding flexography. Packaging is all about effective communication on-shelf, so understanding what can and cannot be done is critical. Thankfully, there are a few basic guidelines, specifically related to type, that any designer can use to ensure effective communication and flow through the flexo prepress process. When used together, they can dramatically improve the chances of your design remaining as you intended through the prepress and printing process. Showing your client “printable designs” allows you to ef- fectively manage expectations and eliminate costly revisions during the prepress phase of the project. Begin by watching the size and weight of small type. Then avoid fonts with fine serifs and thin lines. Why? The last thing you want to see on press is text breaking-up or plugging-up, making the com- munication point unreadable. To avoid these problems use at a minimum: • 8pt. positive print serif type. • 6pt. positive sans serif type. • 10pt. negative serif type. • 8pt. negative sans serif type. Expect slight variations between flexo printers and dif- fering substrates. Make sure to ask your flexo printer for recommendations, or refer to FIRST (Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances) for minimum type sizes [See Table 1.]. SMALL DETAILS Printing small and fine serif positive type in a single line color will improve the final printed package. Combining tints and building type out of multiple colors, on the other hand, may result in registration and legibility issues on-shelf. Con- sider overprinting small dark colored positive print text over another significantly lighter color to eliminate the need for knockout or trap. Make sure you understand what will hap- pen when the colors are combined or overprinted, and factor in the transparent characteristics of the ink. Similar guidelines can be used for small negative type to ensure effective product communication. Reversing text out of a single line color will result in clean, crisp, and readable text. Reversing text out of more than one color, or process build, can be problematic, unless you incorporate a holding line. This holding line can be used as part of the design, make the prepress process easier and ultimately improve the overall look of the package. In most cases, the designer will not be responsible for setting-up the traps and overprints, but building the art files with this in mind will help everyone else in the process. 48 FLeXO july 2011 www.flexography.org Fonts & Formulas • Using three fonts or less cleans up the overall look, eliminates clutter and improves the impact of your design at retail. • Watch the size and weight of small type and avoid fonts with fine serifs and thin lines. • Reversing text out of a single line color will result in clean, crisp, and readable text. • Reversing text out of more than one color, or process build, can be problematic unless you incorporate a holding line. • Larger fonts, simplified elements and cleaner grada- tions all add to the design’s effectiveness.