How should I prepare my artwork files for printing
There are a number of ways to prepare files so that they will output properly.
1) PDF – The preferred method. All PDFs must be saved as high resolution files with fonts and links embedded. You will also need to include crop marks and any bleed necessary to produce the job when saving the PDF.
2) Live Files – We can accept files from most layout or graphic programs. Many page layout programs have a “collect” or “package” function that gathers all fonts and graphics used in the file. If your software program doesn’t have this function, you will need to manually gather all font and graphics used to create the file and send them along with your file. Be sure to include fonts used in placed graphics. It is always advisable to compress (ZIP or STUFF) your files before sending them by either email or upload to our FTP site. This reduces the size of the files so that they transfer more quickly and also reduces the incidence of file corruption.
3) If you don’t want to send fonts and links, simply convert all type to curves and embed all graphics. Once links are embedded and text is converted to curves, we can’t make changes to your files.
Four over Four (or 4/4)
If you’re printing a flyer, you might be printing 4/4, which essentially means you are printing four color on the front and four color on the back. If nothing’s on the back, then it would be 4/0.
For postcards, you might print 4/1: four color on the front and 1 spot color on the back.
For business cards, you might print 2/2: 2 spot colors on the front and back.
Here is a diagram of a typical document for print designs.
Trim Line: This is the finished size of the piece.
Live Area: The area that is considered safe to keep any important information within. For example, if an ad’s trim size is 8.25 in × 10.25 in, the live area might be 7.75 in × 9.75 in. This takes into consideration the binding if the ad is placed on the left or right of a spread and you don’t want copy to be unreadable if it is too close to the spine.
Bleed Area: The more bleed you can offer, the better.The minimum bleed you need for a printed piece is 0.125 in (1/8 in) but some specs require more than that. So if you are working with an image in Photoshop and you’re placing it in InDesign for print preparation, keep in mind the area you might need to use for the bleed.
Crop Marks: Indicates where to cut the paper.
Deciding to Use Black or Rich/Packed Black
When printing with black color, there are two types of black you can use.
- Black – 100 K: can be used for body copy and barcodes
- Rich Black – 40 C 40 M 40 Y 100 K: should be used when using blocks of black
Note: Rich/Packed black specifications may differ from printer to printer, so you should ask your printer what they recommend.
Rich Black vs Black (100 K)
Below, you will see the difference between rich black and black.
It may be hard to tell the difference when preparing files on your monitor screen depending on your monitor type and monitor calibration since PC screens show richer colors in RGB. Therefore, it is wise to get a press proof when printing blocks of black.