A free catalog template is an incredibly efficient way for graphic designers to quickly set up design files so they can get to the fun stuff - the design itself. But not all free catalog templates are created equal, so it's important that you get a professional catalog template to avoid time-delaying, money-draining problems at the press and beyond. If you're looking for a free catalog template that will make your life easier (and more profitable) as a designer, then read on.
Catalog template size and resolution
One of the problems with "free" is that it isn't always free. If you download a free catalog template that is set up incorrectly, you will encounter costly problems later. It's best to start with a catalog template created for the size of catalog you're going to design and print. Rescaling other size templates does not guarantee your guidelines will be accurate, which could result in a background that doesn't extend beyond the bleed line or a design that's centered far from the borders of your paper. Download the right size catalog template, and you negate any chance that your guidelines are incorrect.
Your catalog template resolution should be in the neighborhood of at least 300 dpi to ensure a quality print. Anything less, and your images will appear out of focus, fuzzy or blow way out of proportion.
Catalog template color mode
Your printer's preferred color mode ultimately determines what color mode your catalog design files should be submitted in; however, it's safe to say that most catalog printing companies print catalogs in CMYK color mode. Thus, it's a good idea to download a free catalog template preformatted in CMYK four-color process color mode, which can easily be converted to other color modes if needed.
Catalog template guidelines
One of the best features of free catalog layout templates is that they include guidelines for your artwork. Good catalog templates include three types of lines: safe area lines, cutlines and bleed lines. Safe area lines are as their name implies - they mark off the safe area around your design that your artwork should go in. Anything outside the safe area is subject to be cut off during the finishing process, so your artwork should be contained within them.
Cutlines appropriately designate where the paper will be cut after printing; however, there is always a variance here and these are used as general guidelines instead of absolutes. Staying inside the safe area is important. Finally, bleed lines designate how far your background colors and graphics should extend if you want them to go to the edge of the paper when cut.
Specialty catalog templates safe time
The aforementioned catalog template standards save on setup time, so you as a designer can skip the tedious boring work and go straight to the fun, profitable work. They make you more efficient, so you can make more money. But these standards are just the beginning - designing for specialty prints such as die cuts, product packages and drilled holes can leave you scratching your head as to where what piece of artwork should go.
That's why specialty catalog templates are especially useful: They take the guesswork out so you can feel confident that your efforts are focused where they need to be so you can be efficient even in specialty work. PsPrint provides free catalog templates for just about every printed product imaginable, and these templates include all the standard features plus guidelines for die cuts and drill holes. They'll even create custom templates for custom die cuts on request.