Using Fonts and Images for Print Design

It can be tricky for designers to figure out exactly what size or types of photos and fonts are usable for print design in comparison to other design work. Here are a few basic guidelines that will help you in your selection. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

It is important to make sure that you obtain the correct license to use all graphics in your design or artwork. Typically images found through Google or other search engines are copyrighted and not available to use in commercial projects. In addition to copyright issues, most pictures found online are low resolution images which will not look good when printed. If you purchase or license high resolution photos or artwork from a stock photo website, you should be able to use the image or art in your design. Be aware that some stock photos have restriction on usage or the number of printed copies that can be created.

Additionally, make sure all fonts used in your design are available for commercial use. Often free fonts found online are licensed for personal use only, but many free high quality fonts found online can be used commercially. If in doubt, contact the font creator for permission to use the font commercially and when possible obtain written authorization for use in your specific design.

Image Size and Resolution

Images used for print design should be at least 300 dpi. Most online images are only 72 dpi. If a low resolution image is used for print, it will often create a blurry or pixelated image. For the most professional look, make sure your photographer or stock photo website provides you with images which are 300 dpi resolution or higher. This is particularly important for large format projects where an image will be printed at bigger sizes.

Selecting the Best Fonts for Print

When deciding which fonts to use, it's important to keep in mind these considerations:

  • Final size of the printed project
  • Background color or images
  • Substrate used for the project

Font Size
As a general rule, font size should never be smaller than 6 pt. for easy readability. If text will be printed at a smaller size (such as text on business cards), make sure your font is thick enough and simple enough that the text will still be clear. For basic flyers, brochures, or other informational print projects, the font should be at least 10 pt. for clarity. 

Background
If text will be printed over a background image or colored background, make sure the font used is thick enough to be read and that there is enough contrast for easy readability. If your background is busy, it's important to pay close attention to the spacing between letters. If your text will be embossed or foil stamped, it will need to be substantial enough to maintain the integrity of the text design during the heating process.

Substrate
Keep in mind that designs intended for print on a textured background will need to be carefully chosen. If your font will be cut out as vinyl lettering or dimensional signage, select a thicker font for the best results.

A good way to confirm that your text can be read with the selected font is to print out your design on a home or office printer. At McNeil Printing, we do our best to inform you if we see a potential problem with the fonts or images to ensure a beautiful final product.