HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FILES FOR PRINTING

Thursday August 08, 2019

 

Start from the Beginning

It is important to prepare your files for print correctly from the very beginning, so that every design choice you make throughout the project will have that end goal in mind. It is much easier to convert an offset print-ready file to a non-print-ready, used for web, email or social media than the other way around. Design for print first, then create the other formats.

 

Auto-Proofing

At Printdirectforless.com we have an auto proofing system that allows you to upload your files to your order. The proofing system will check your file to see that it meets certain criteria that make it suitable for printing. Once the file has passed the auto proof inspection, you can look at the file to make sure that everything still looks the same.  The proofer can make changes on the fly that make your file printable. However, please be VERY AWARE  that these changes, in some circumstances, could change your file in an undesirable manner. You should always carefully review your file to make sure that all info, color and graphics are prepared correctly and that the system is previewing your file exactly as you want it to print.

 

 

If your file fails the auto proofer, you will receive a notification that explains why it failed. You can then make changes to your file and upload it again.  If you cannot fix the file or do not understand what to do, please call customer service and we will be happy to assist you.  After you approve your file, a prepress technician will visually review your file. They will be looking for things that the auto proofer cannot detect. If the technician finds something they will contact you about it. (You will usually be notified by email about any issues. We will contact you by phone if we do not hear back from you.) 

 

 

 

Folding issues and proper white area for ink jetting addresses are common problems found at this time. We have folding templates that can be downloaded on the products page where you created your order. The inkjet mailing area should be the size of a business card 3.5”x2” or larger, not including the indicia or stamp area. Please contact customer service if you have any questions about how to prepare your files. 855.266.8870.

 

 

Here are some guidelines to go by when creating your files. These guides will help you with a successful upload through our auto proofing system.

 

Rule of thumb is anything created in any Microsoft software is not suitable for offset printing.  Files from Paint, Word, Powerpoint & Publisher simply cannot be used for a number of reasons… These programs create the files in a low resolution format which is fine for viewing on screen or printing to a laser printer or inkjet printer. The files are created in RGB (red, green & blue) which once again is fine for viewing online but if you are wanting to print the job CMYK (four color process printing) the colors will look dull & flat.

 

IMAGES

 • All color and grayscale images must be 300 dpi at the final size used. All bitmap images must be 1200 dpi at the final size used.

A great design can be ruined by low-quality images, so always make sure that your images are the highest quality possible.
Here are just a few ways you can make sure your images are the best:

-  Purchase images from reputable stock image providers

-  Hire a professional photographer

-  If you're taking the photos, use professional-grade equipment (not your phone)

-  If you have to use your phone, make sure there's plenty of lighting and that you are using a setting to make the photo as large as
           
possible. Do not down-size.

 

 

COLOR

The standard color space for digital and offset printing is CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black).

 

• All files must be saved using CMYK for color images. (grayscale may be used for black and white). RGB, Indexed color, or Spot color images are not acceptable. These images must be converted to CMYK. Our system will convert these colors, but it is much safer for you to do the conversion on your end so you can see the color shifts and adjust the color to your liking. Most applications will give you the option to work in either CMYK or RGB color mode. It is fine to begin working in RGB, there are some filters in Photoshop that are only available when working in RGB mode. Just remember to convert to CMYK before submitting your files to us. Keep in mind that red, green and blue light create more colors than cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks do. Therefore, your image may look a little different in RGB than in CMYK. If we must do the conversion here, we are not responsible if you are not happy with the conversion results.

 

 

• Acceptable image file formats are: pdf, tiff, eps, and Hi-Res JPEG.

Preferred formats in which to receive print ready jobs are: tiff, eps, and pdf. Pdf format is the preferred method. (Hi-res jpg format is also acceptable.) This is a MUST for Corel Draw and Publisher users, as well as other unsupported software.

 

• If an image, graphic or color is meant to print to the edge of your document, you need to add and additional .125” (1/8”) on all sides of your file. This is known as the bleed area. Your graphic should spill into this area and will be cut off. This will prevent tiny slivers of white on the edges of your cards. Example: a standard business card that is 3.5” x 2” file size with bleed would be 3.75” x 2.25”

 

 

 

• If you are using a drawing program, such as Illustrator or Freehand, convert all your text to paths or outlines before creating a pdf. This will help eliminate any font problems.

 

 

• Create solid black areas using a "Rich Black" consisting of 50% Cyan, 50% Magenta, 30% Yellow and 100% Black, rather than black only.

 

 

 

• Text should stay 100% black and be set to overprint any images below it.

• Any blocks of white should knockout, not overprint.

• Please use unique file names to clearly identify your files such as front or back.

• If you use the same artwork on both sides, please make sure to let us know so your job isn't delayed while we wait for a second file. There is a place in the ordering system that you can designate 1-sided, 2-sided or same on both sides

 • Remove all unused elements from the pasteboard area of your documents.

 

 

• Please ensure your folds are correct on your document. You can find templates for most of the standard folds on our website on the product pages. If you cannot find the fold that you are looking for, just contact us and we will be glad to send the template to you.

• Be sure all copy or important graphics are at least 1/8” away from all folds, perforations, and cuts. This insures nothing will be cut off or folded in a way to make it illegible.

• Files not conforming to these standards may not pass our Quality Control checkpoint and will be returned to you for repair and re-submission. This will delay your print job.

• We use a PDF workflow and ideally, we prefer that the files you upload to us are high resolution PDFs. This will make your print project flow much easier and be prone to fewer snags.

 

 

The following are some general guidelines that should be adhered to when saving your PDF file:

 

• When saving from an Adobe program (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), select "Press Quality" from the Adobe PDF Preset drop down list.

• Compression - Select either "Do Not Down sample" or if the images in your layout are unusually high resolution, include Bicubic Downsampling set to a minimum of "300 pixels/inch", Compression set to "JPEG" and Image Quality of "High"

• Your file should be 1/8” larger on all sides, if your file includes elements that 'bleed' outside the borders of your page.

• Output color should always be “CMYK"

 

At Printdirectforless.com we are always happy to help you with any print projects you may have. We have a staff of prepress operators standing by to help you with your files, and a design department for times when you need help creating those files from scratch or if your files need editing. Please contact us at 855.266.8870 and we will put you in touch with the proper support representative. Just a phone call or email away.

 

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