File Preparation Tips
Popular File Formats
- .AI – Adobe Illustrator. Convert all fonts to outlines and embed any linked graphics.
- .INDD – Adobe InDesign. Converting your fonts to outlines is recommended if you are not using True Type
- .JPG or .JPEG – Photographic images. Set your camera to the highest resolution if using your own photos. Note that most jpeg images downloaded from the web are low quality and unsuitable for printing.
- Fonts (.TTF). Package your files to include your fonts and links. Compress the packaged folder (.zip or .sit) before sending.
- .PSD – Adobe Photoshop. Flatten your layers before submitting your files.
- .TIF or .TIFF – This graphic file format will retain the highest possible image quality.
If you do not want a white border around the edge of the finished print, then you have to extend your color or image so you do not get the white borders on each side. This is also referred to as "full bleed.
If you want full bleed on your file, you must have your file or image extend beyond the finished border size. For example, if you want a finished 8.5"x11" size document with "full bleed" (no white border), then the actual size of your document should be at least 8.75" x 11.25". This also means we have to print it on a larger sheet of paper.
If you want your document printed with "full bleed" but have not sized it accordingly, we can create a bleed for you for an additional fee.
When saving the file into the proper format (preferably PDF), do not use any crop or printer's marks. These will increase the dimensions of the file.
BordersDoes you piece contain a graphic or artistic border close to the paper edge? Sometimes borders can create problems due to the fact when paper is trimmed, there is a cutting tolerance of 1/16". In other words, the machine might not cut exactly every time which may result in your borders looking uneven. For this reason we do not recommend borders. However, if they are necessary in your piece, the border should be at least 1/4" thick and at least 3/8" from the bleed line. Perfect trimming cannot be guaranteed.
Color Modes - RGB and CMYK
When you're looking at colors on screens - whether it's your computer screen or TV screen - you're looking at colors made from Red, Green and Blue (RGB). In the digital realm, color points start at black and then red, green and blue are added to create different colors. When red, green, and blue are all mixed together at the same level, it creates white.
Printers, however, are created with the CMYK spectrum. These colors are created from Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The process for color creation is almost reverse of RGB - color points start at white and then the other colors are added to reduce the brightness of the white. When all the colors are mixed together at equal intensity, you get black.
For those unfamiliar with this difference, there can be confusion and frustration when what is displayed on a computer screen looks very different once it's printed. And keep in mind that there is even a lot of variances between different computer monitors, too.
To minimize surprises when it's time to print, see if your software will allow you to work in a CMYK color space if you intend to print. This will prevent your document from going through a "color shift" when it's converted from RGB to CMYK.
If there is a color(s) that is critical to reproduce as accurately as possible (such as a brand color, like 'Nickelodeon Orange'), try to get the Pantone color code for that color and send that info to us with your document. These special colors are called "spot colors" and they can be programmed into our digital press so they register accurately when your file is printed.Is your piece black and white? Files that are black and white must have all artwork or images in Grayscale color mode if you want tonal shading and not just harsh black and white.
Are you using vector-based software such CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe InDesign? For vector files such as these, you should convert your text to outlines before creating the file (preferably PDF) you send us.
Are you using a bitmap-based (a.k.a. raster) software application such as Adobe Photoshop? For bitmap files such as these, simply flatten the image. Avoid font sizes smaller than 8 pts or fonts that are very narrow as these may not print, or will lack crispness, or may not display well against dark backgrounds.
While your computer screen will display low resolution images well, when printed they will look rough, blurry and jagged. For best printing results, a resolution of at least 300 dpi is recommend. Files with resolution lower than 300 dpi can be printed, but the results may be unsatisfactory.
Do you have lines on your piece? All lines should be at least .25 pts thick to make them printable. Thinner lines may display on your screen but be too thin to print.
Does your piece have any images, text or other elements close to the page edge? If too close, it may get cut off. Establish a no-go "safety zone" of at least 1/8" from the edge of the final trim size. To avoid any images or text being cut off when the piece is trimmed, do not place them in the safety zone.