Tips on How To Prepare Your Project(s) For Print

You have finally gotten the design for your printed project looking exactly the way you envisioned it and its time to send the files to us for printing. But are the files you have createdpress ready?

If your files are not up to standard, they will be returned to you, which will cause extended  turnaround time and may completely trash the deadline you have set for your printed piece to start working for you.  Below is a short checklist outlining the basic steps to properly prepare the files for printing.

File formats

 The best and most preferred file format is a PDF file. PDF files preserve formatting regardless of the program in which they were created. PDF files are also more compact and easier to email. Avoid using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Publisher, which are challenging to reproduce with consistent image and color quality.

Vector graphics, indicated by an EPS or AI extension, are created with mathematical equations so they can be scaled without any loss of quality. Raster graphics, including JPEG, TIFF, PNG and GIF, are composed of pixels, which can lose definition when the file is altered or saved. These types of files should have a resolution of 300 dpi or greater for maximum image and color quality .

Color mode

Files should use CMYK or four-color mode.  Files submitted in RGB or Pantone mode will be converted prior to printing, and can result result in inaccurate color and image reproduction.

Bleeds, cutlines and borders

After your job is printed, it will be cut down to the correct size, which may cause issues with your artwork unless you plan ahead.

  • If artwork is designed to extend to the edge of your product, bleeds will ensure that you’re not left with an unattractive white strip along the sides. Standard bleed is 1/8″.
  • In addition to the bleed, include a minimum allowance of 1/4″ if you are using a border.
  • Text should extend no further than 1/8″ inside the cutline to ensure that it remains intact.
  • Use a Template that clearly shows Bleed, Finished, Cutlineand “Safe Area” for text and images. You can find a multitude of templates here on our web site that will fit most of your design needs.  


You may have used a font that your printer doesn’t normally use or have in their system. If fonts are not embedded in the PDF, make sure they are included in your files along with corresponding links or the font will automatically be substituted when it is read by the computer.


Any transparencies in your artwork should be flattened before saving. The flattening process separates transparent artwork by binding the images into a distinct object.

Black vs. rich black

Two types of black can be used in printing. Standard black, derived completely from key, the “K” in CMYK, is best for text and elements such as barcodes. Rich black includes elements of cyan, magenta and blue and is used for blocks of black.

If you have questions while preparing your files, don’t take any chances by guessing or making assumptions. Call us for advice on the specs required to achieve a quality printed piece.

One important thing to remember is to ask for a “Hard Copy Proof”  as many times something that looks great on your computer screen can look completely different once it has been printed. Some shops charge for a “proof” while others don’twhether it cost you or not, its better to pay two or three dollars for a “proof” than to have a $500.00 dollar box of ugly printed material that will not get your message to your customer.



Doug Clark