The View From The Tree: 6 Things Digital Natives Should Know About Print
Print Is Multi-Dimensional
Print engages the reader's hands, eyes, ears, and even nose in ways that digital media can't. You can put a gatefold or even a belly band into a digital edition, but in only two dimensions they're just not the same. A special section can really stand out if it's narrower than the rest of the printed magazine or uses different paper. I've never seen a blow-in card fall out of an iPad. (Some would consider that a blessing, but not my friends in the circulation department.) And forget about replicating die cuts, scratch-and-sniff, or fluorescent inks.
Print Is Imprecise
Unless someone's monitor is out of whack, the web page a reader sees will look like the web page you see. But a PDF is only an ideal approximation of how a printed page will appear. And they're not much good at telling you how a metallic PMS ink or special coating will look.
Color printing is done with four colors of ink that are placed one on top of the other— usually well enough that the reader doesn't realize they are not in perfect alignment if you follow some basic rules. But if you use colored body type it will come out blurry, and small "knockout" (white) type on a colored background is likely to be illegible.
There's also natural variation in how pages are trimmed from copy to copy and from section to section. To prevent strange white areas on the border of a page, any color or graphics on the edge of a page should extend into the "bleed" area. And to avoid lopsided pages or having important information trimmed off, keep text and any graphics that don't bleed within the "live area." In an 8" x 10.5" magazine, for example, a full-page full-bleed photo should be at least 8.25" x 10.75" on the PDF and a non-bleed photo should be no larger than 7.5" x 10".