File Preparation for Commerical Printing

File Preparation for Commerical Printing

When it comes to commercial printing, it’s not as easy as “Ctrl+P”.

To avoid delays in your products, see the handy tips below.

Printing File Formats We Like Are Saved As….

File Types We AcceptAcrobat (pdf) when saving to pdf, it’s suggested to still create outlines for all your fonts before saving or exporting. Please ensure all of your settings are correct for print-ready files including image mode and resolution, and bleeds are visible in the pdf file with crops indicating the final trim size.

Photoshop CC  (psd, tif or jpg) simply flatten all your layers and make sure the resolution is a minimum of 300 dpi and are CMYK.

CorelDRAW X6 (eps) be sure to convert all your fonts to curves. 

Illustrator CC (eps or ai) embed all linked files, create outlines for all fonts and flatten all transparencies.

InDesign CC (indd or idml) save as a package to include all linked files, fonts used and notes.

*No need to add registration marks, page information and colour bars when savings or exporting your final files for printing.

A Picture Is Worth At Least 300 Dpi

All photographs and images should be a minimum resolution of 300 dpi and CMYK.

PMS vs CMYK

Most products we offer are printed in full colour and should be saved in CMYK mode. However some printed products like letterhead, envelopes and business cards can be printed using Pantone (PMS) spot colours. These 1, 2 and 3 colour orders must be saved as vector files (Acrobat, Illustrator or CorelDRAW). If the print job is only 1 Pantone colour then you can save as a black and white or greyscale tif or jpg at a minimum resolution of 600 dpi. Talk to one of our print experts for more details. 

Bleed-Examples-01Let It Bleed

We need an extra 1/8” (0.125) of artwork or background to go beyond the trim size on each side of your prints. Do not put a border on for your bleed – it must be a continuation of all artwork/graphics that go to the trim edge of your print.


Don’t Get Cut Off

Remember to design so that all vital information such as phone numbers and addresses are 1/8″ inside the final trim line of your print job. This is known as the critical print area, or the safe zone.

So You Want To Be Rich?

Get a deep, rich black by using all CMYK inks: cyan 60, magenta 40, yellow 40, black 100. Rich blacks are not suggested with tree-free printing or uncoated card stocks.

Going for that Extra Special Print Effect

When printing extra print effects beyond CMYK, like spot gloss, foil stamping, foil effects, its highly suggested to save it on it’s own layer or even better, its own page or separate file. For all the effects listed above, you simply use black where you want the print effect and white where you don’t. No greyscale, screens or photographs can be used for print effects, monochromatic bitmap files (line art) can be used at a minimum resolution of 600 dpi. Your final file must be setup in a vector-based program such as Illustrator or CorelDRAW.

Foil Effects

This is the most popular specialty effect printed right now and its because you can customize foil colours with CMYK values that are printed on top of the silver layer you setup. This means you literally double your colour palette. Foil effects works best on lighter colours. The darker and more saturated the CMYK colour is, the less effect the foil effect will have. Do not use very thin and small text and artwork for foil effects. For best results, use large areas or fonts 12pt and above. For best results on a simply standard silver foil is to print 15% black on top of the foil effect. Speak to one of our print specialists for more information on how to set-up your file.

Large Format Printing

The resolution for files for large format printing should be a minimum of 150 DPI. We suggest 300dpi at the final size to gain the best print results. Bleeds are not required for large format posters, outdoor banners and rolled canvas. However stretched canvas does require a bleed. For the standard 3/4″ frame, your graphic requires a 2” bleed on each side and for the gallery 1 3/8″ frame, your graphic requires a 4″ bleed on each side. 

All files we print go through one of our print technicians to make sure they will come out great. If you miss one of these tips, we will let you know on how to fix it or offer to fix it for you.

Happy printing!

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