illustrator banding

When sending a file to your printer, always be sure to convert all your text to outlines.

Here is a scenario.

You’ve got a design for a new tradeshow, banner stand, flyer or even something as simple as a business card.  The design is perfect.  You love it.  You (or your designer) have spent many long hours on the project, matching colours and making sure sizes and bleeds are up to spec.  Making sure it fits your company and your brand.

You’re given the green light (or you give the green light), and send it off to print.  You notice your printer accepts a few different file types (.ai, .psd, .eps and so on).  Great.  Your file is already an .ai file, as you made it in Illustrator.  (Maybe .eps, you get my point.  These tips should be used even if you are sending your file as a pdf.)

Text to Outlines

This is how it looks on your computer.


After sending it off, you wait patiently for a screen proof to return from your printer.  It shows up, and you notice when you open the file that either some, or all, of your fonts have changed.  It’s all wrong.  Or, better yet, your printer comes back and asks for you to convert your text to outlines.



Text to Outlines

How your file is seen on another computer.


What happened?

Fonts on your computer are specific to your computer.  Yes, quite a few are installed by default on most computers, like ‘Times New Roman’ or some ‘Arial, but there is no guarantee that the font you’ve used will be universal.  Even if you use ‘Garamond’, your designer or printer might have a slightly different (ie: ‘Adobe Garamond Pro’) which might cause unnecessary font substitutions.

Their program (ie Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, etc…) will automatically fill in a substitute font in place of yours, which is not something we want to happen.


So what can you do?

After your files are tweaked and perfected, just before they’re ready to be sent to your printer, you can convert all your text to outlines.

What does that mean?

Short answer, it makes all your text into shapes.

** Please note that this means it will no longer be editable, so save a back-up of your file with the text preserved for future use.  There is nothing worse than opening an old file to update a minor text entry only to find that everything has been flattened. **

To do this, depending on your design program of choice, takes two easy steps.

I am going to use Adobe Illustrator, but the steps work for InDesign too.


Text to Outlines


First of all, select all of the text in your file (Ctrl+A, or the top menu Select > Select All).  Nothing will happen to any other objects, so do not worry about selecting everything here.  If you’ve set-up you file so that all your text is on one layer, even better.


Text to Outlines


Secondly, select Type > Create Outlines from the top menu.


Text to Outlines


You will notice the base line for the type is gone, and the letters are now outlined.  They are no longer editable text, and will retain their appearance.


Text to Outlines


Now you can send this file for printing.  Simple.

Aside from sending files to your printer, converting text to outlines is a must for creating logos or corporate identities.  There is no telling who will end up needing to put a company’s logo in a design, or what fonts may or may not be installed on their systems.

Think broad, stay fresh
You may have noticed that many large corporations are rolling out new logos lately; Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc. While it may not seem like much to think about, these corporations regularly refresh their logos, and so should you. Here are a few things to consider:

Modern Media Adaptations

Can your logo be easily incorporated into digital media, such as your website or on social media? If not, it might be time for an update. Besides having a standard logo, you may also need an icon to be designed for use in smaller spaces.

A Change in Business

All businesses change over time, if they don’t it’s likely that they won’t survive. As your business changes it may not be in line with your logo; a change can help to realign your marketing strategy with your business and help it look towards the future.


Logos help to tell people about your business. While a mom and pop store may get away with a logo designed in-house for the first few years, any business can benefit from investing in a professionally-designed logo. Designers know what colours, typefaces, and sizes work for best visibility and impact to ensure that you get compliments (and business) as a result of your new logo.


If you admire your competitor’s logo more than your own, it’s time to do something about it. Likewise, if you don’t love your current logo it’s also time for a change. While it may seem silly, a good logo design can work wonders for a company’s reputation and visibility.



Simplicity and Modernization

Trends in logo design change, so sticking with a logo that is 5 or 10 years old can quickly date your company and make it feel as if they are behind the times. A simple, modern logo can identify your company, tell others what your business is about, and attract attention. A new logo design can be prepared to work across both digital and print mediums, so you can incorporate it into emails, online newsletters, etc., to get even more value.

Designing a great logo is no simple task, so look for a good logo designer who can show you a portfolio of design concepts that are in line with your business’ brand and values. Don’t settle for second-best, investing in a great logo now will benefit your company for many years to come.

Banding issues in gradients  can be a problem in offset print and large format printing. We usually run into this issue when we’re printing large format for custom banner stands or offset printing for full colour, professional brochures . The issue tends to be more prevalent when gradients are created in Illustrator  for output to large format printers.  Certain colour schemes also can be more prone to banding such as dark blue to light blue. If you’re creating gradients in Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign you’ll need to make sure there are no banding issues before your artwork is output to final print.

As an offset and large format printer we always watch for banding problems prior to printing. If you discover banding issues the following technique may help reduce or eliminate the problem.

Banding Lines

An example of a gradient with banding issues.

Using Adobe Photoshop the first step will be copy your gradient onto a new layer.

create layer

Copy your gradient on to a new layer.

Select the layer we just copied. We will now go the filter drop down menu and select Blur | Gaussian Blur.


Click the filter drop down and select Gaussian Blur.

We’re now going to add gaussian blur to the gradient; the amount you can add will depend on the colours that you are using in your gradient. You can refer back your original gradient which is on its own layer to ensure the colour isn’t changing to drastically. You may find you will have to strike a compromise between the original colour and the amount of banding that shows. When you’ve achieved an acceptable balance click OK.

Now click on your layers palette and create a new layer called Overlay, change the mode to overlay and check  ‘Fill with Overlay-neutral colour (50% gray).


Adding a new layer for overlay.

With your new Overlay layer selected click the Filter drop down and select Noise | Add Noise.

Add Noise

As with Gaussian blur the amount of noise you can add will vary depending on your colour scheme. In general you will be adding a small amount of noise (.1 to 3%) ; too much noise and you will see a distinct texture.  Under ‘Distribution’ select Uniform.

Adding Noise

Adding noise to your overlay layer.

You will find that you’ll need to play with different combinations of the above to achieve good results in printing gradients. Every colour scheme will react differently to these adjustments. You should be able reduce or eliminate most banding with this technique as shown below.


An image with no banding.