We want your finished project to look beautiful! There's nothing we like better than a super satisfied client that can't stop talking about how great we are and how much they love our work! So we take extra care to ensure we do everything we can on our end -from equipment to processes- to keep the praises coming. We know that you don't intend to take that joy away from us, but everyone does things a little differently. So we thought it would be a good idea to provide you with some information and guidelines for providing your print ready files. This information will not only help you avoid small mistakes that can delay your project, but you get to share in the glory of being an important part of making your project look fantastic!
Full-color Artwork Guidelines
Our first tip to ensuring excellent finished results in your full-color printed product is to use our templates whenever possible. We try to provide a template for every product listed on the site. If we have a template available, use it. Otherwise, here are some tips.
Your artwork files should be at 100% size. Thre is no need for any fancy tricks, just a 1:1 ratio between the artwrok size and the finished product size.
A bleed is a part of the design that extends beyond the edges of the product. This extra bleed area is removed when the final product is cut. This ensures that your background graphics go all the way to the edge. Since the bleed part is destined to be chopped, it is crucial that you do not include any important content in the bleed area.
An ⅛" (0.125") bleed is required on all full-color artwork files. So if you would like a postcard that is 4"x6" when finished, when you are setting up the artwork you would need to add 0.125" to the artboard. This means the artwork you provide for your 4"x6" postcard should be 4.125"x6.125".
The safe zone is kind of the opposite of a bleed. The safe zone is located around the inside perimeter of your printed product. We suggest that you keep a ¼" (0.25") area around the perimeter free of any important content. So that 4"x6" postcard you want to print, should have all the important content inside an area of 3.75"x5.75".
The artwork file you are submitting has a resolution that is measured by Dots Per Inch (dpi). As it sounds, this specifies how many dots would fit inside an inch. So the more dots there are, the finer the detail. The files you submit must be a minimum of 300 dpi.
You can add borders to your project, but you need to make sure that the borders are not located too close to the edge. Printed items are cut in bundles of many sheets at a time so there may be some shifting of the exact location of the cut. This means if your border is too close to the edge, there is a risk that some pieces may have a border that is uneven.
The artwork you submit must be in CMYK color mode. Full-color printing works by combining four different color values to recreate the printed images. The four standard colors used are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). Yes, we know that the word "Black" does not begin with "K," and no we're not drunk. The letter "K" is a reference to the name used for the plate that applies the black ink, which is the "Key Plate."
If you have heard about RGB and are not sure how it relates to CMYK, you can reference our blog article, RGB vs. CMYK.
You can get a richer, darker black on your printed item if you mix all four colors (CMYK) instead of just using black (K). The formula we like for achieving a rich black is C-60, M-40, Y-40, K-100. But it is important to note that rich black may not work too well with small or thin text. It is generally suggested that rich black is used in larger areas or text over 30 points.
We think fonts are sexy but would prefer that you don't send us any. Have fun and do what you like with your fonts, but before saving a file that you will send to us please do the right thing and convert your fonts to outlines, or flatten the image if you are working in Photoshop. If you do not convert your fonts or flatten the image, the font may change during your file's travels, and the design may not look like you intended.
Crop marks, registration marks, page information, color bars, bleed marks, and slug area are collectively known as printer’s marks. Do not use or include printer marks in the artwork you are submitting. We don’t need them. All we need is the artwork with the bleed.
This may seem like a trivial thing, but a good file name can make a difference. We suggest the use of a unique file name that relates to your project. It is also important to name multiple files for the same item the with a matching name. For example John_K-businesscard-Front.pdf and John_K-buisnesscard-Back.pdf or John_K-businesscard-1.pdf and John_K-businesscard-2.pdf.
We really like it when people send us PDF files. They're our favorite. But we're not snobs, so if you want to send us JPG, TIFF, EPS, or PNG we'll be perfectly fine with it. With any file type, just make sure you include bleeds and that your fonts are outlined, or the file has been flattened.
Multi-page Booklet Guidelines
Please make sure you have first read the full-color artwork guidelines. All of that information applied to booklets as well, except where noted below.
Booklets require a larger bleed than other full-color items, to allow for proper setup any crossovers. A 0.25" bleed is required on all full-color booklet artwork files. So if you would like a booklet with a finished size of 8.5”x11”, when you are setting up the artwork you would need to add 0.25" to the artboard. This means the artwork you provide for each page of your 8.5”x11” booklet should be 8.75"x11.25".
Booklets also require a larger safe zone than other full-color items. We suggest that you keep a 0.5" safe area around the perimeter of a page free of any important content. So that 8.5”x11” booklet you want to print, should have all the important content inside an area of 8”x10.5”.
When an image, text or other graphic element crosses over from one page to another, it is called crossover. Usually it is bigger bolder things that work well on a crossover. We don't suggest using any thin lines, text, faces, or other detailed graphics in the crossover area.
Booklet page numbers start from the front cover. So the outside of the front cover is page 1. The inside of the cover is then page 2. This goes on until you reach the outside of the back cover, which will be the last page. To learn more about counting booklet pages, visit our blog post, How to count the pages for a Multi-page Booklet.
Printer’s Marks & Printer’s Spreads
Crop marks, registration marks, page information, color bars, bleed marks, and slug area are collectively known as printer’s marks. Do not use or include printer marks in the artwork you are submitting. We don’t need them. We also do not accept printer’s spreads; we prefer single pages.
We prefer that you submit your booklet artwork as a multipage PDF. If you prefer to submit single page files, that is fine as well.
For a multipage PDF, please make sure that the pages are in the order you would like them to print.
For single PDF pages, please make sure that your files are named appropriately and include a page number. A good tip is to use a two digit page number with a leading zero at the front of the file name. For example, 01-springcatalog.pdf, 02-springcatalog.pdf, 03-springcatalog.pdf, and so on.