File Preparation Guide
This information is meant to answer some of the most basic questions about preparing
press-ready files. Should you have any questions don't hesitate to give our graphic design department a call.
FORMATS ACCEPTED: Adobe Acrobat PDF (Recommended), Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop) CS6 or earlier, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXpress
Bitmap vs. Vector Formats
Vector graphics are resolution-independent and can be resized with no loss in image quality, producing clean, sharp graphics. Vector graphics are created in drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator. This is usually the best format to choose when creating artwork such as logos and drawings.
Resolution & Scanning
Bleeds, Trim Marks & Safety Zone
Often designs are created that appear to be printed to the edge of the paper leaving no border. Elements that go off the edge of the paper are called bleeds. They might include backgrounds, photos or graphics. When this is the case the item is actually printed on an oversized piece of paper and then trimmed down afterward to create the effect that it was printed righ to edge. Trim Marks indicate where cuts are to be made so that your final finished piece is the correct size. A Safety Zone is an area near the edge of the page on all sides that should not contain any text or important information. During the printing process some shift of the paper is likely to occur and information placed too close to the edge of the page could be cut off or into during trimming.
(See graphic below.)
We recommend you supply your art to us as Press Ready PDFs and choose the 'embed fonts' option. If you are supplying native files, we suggest you inlcude all appropriate font files, since substituting fonts will often yield undesirable results such as text re-flow.
Adobe InDesign and Illustrator will also allow you to “convert fonts to outlines” which turns the letters into graphic elements. (Photoshop allows you to 'rasterize' a type layer with the same results). Doing this eliminates the need to embed fonts into your file but, also makes the type uneditable, so be sure to keep an editable version in case future edits are necessary.
RGB vs. CMYK
Color that you see on a computer (or TV) monitor consist of red, blue, and green dots — RGB. Photos and images on paper consist of cyan, magenta, yellow and black dots for printing — CMYK. The CMYK process cannot match colors produced by the RGB process. In other words you can’t depend on a printing press, digital copier or printer to reproduce color that matches what you see on your screen.
Process (CMYK) vs. Spot Color
Process Color (CMYK) is used when you are reproducing color photographs. Spot colors allow for the most precise color match in elements such as corporate logos.The most widely used color system is the Pantone Matching System (PMS). A Pantone swatch book (similar to the paint chip books found in paint stores) is used to identify colors by their specific numbers. Because this matching system is standardized throughout the printing industry everyone involved in the process can easily identify the correct color.
Preparing color separations is a task that is often left to the printer's production department. If you're unsure, we suggest that you consult us before you begin creating your files so we can help you determine the best way to create your files based on your desired results and project budget. It can be costly and sometimes impossible to correct errors in this area after your design is completed.
Packaging Your Files
We recommend that you send us your art us as Press Ready PDFs with fonts and images embedded. If you are sending us native files (InDesign, llustrator, Photoshop etc.) we will require fonts as well as all linked graphics to output your file.
InDesign provides a simple way to collect all the necessary elements under the FILE menu choose PACKAGE and create a folder into which all elements will be copied. In the CS6 version of InDesign be sure that the following 3 boxes are checked in the 'package' window: Copy Fonts, Copy Linked Graphics, Update Graphic Links in Package.