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File Prep Tips

How to Prepare Your Project for Printing

Here is a quick checklist for prepping your files for print:



Ever wonder why pictures you print from the web don’t look good in print.  It all comes down to image resolution.  Images from the internet are generally 72 DPI (dots-per-inch).  For best print results, 300 DPI is recommended.  If your images are at a lower resolution, they may print blurry and pixelated. For example, if your jpg is 900 pixels wide by 1500 pixels wide, it is sized to print 3" x 5" (Take the number of pixels and divide by 300 to get your output size).


Document & Print Size:

Make sure your digital files are sized correctly for desired output. Set your document page size (8.5x11, 11x17, 24x36, ect.) to match the actual print size in your layout program (Publisher, Indesign, etc.)  When designing oversize prints, you can set your document size to 50% of the desire output size (ex. 24x36 print size = 12x18 document size).  Please contact us if you have any questions and we will advise you on what size to create your document for best results.


Some of our standard print sizes are:


Sheet Size

8.5x11 (Letter)

8.5x14 (Legal)

11x17 (Tabloid)



18x24 (Posters)

24x36 (Posters)

24x72 (Banners)

36x96 (Banners)

* Custom sizes available.


CMYK & Document Color Mode:

What is CMYK mode?  CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (the K stands for "key," which is black). The process involves combining varying amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to produce a full spectrum of color.

Whenever possible, ensure you are using CMYK color mode for optimal color output.  Why is this important?  The color mode matters because everything is printed in CMYK colors. If your files are in RGB mode, they will need to be converted to CMYK.  Attempting to print files that are in RGB can cause color matching issues.  RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is intended for screen-viewing only. There are RGB color combinations (particularly very bright colors) that cannot be reproduced using CMYK process.

Our equipment can make this conversion for you in most cases, but to ensure the best output, send your files in CMYK.  If color accuracy is vital to your project, it is best to consult with us early in the process to plan for the best color conversion possible.

Pantone Swatches: Because digital printers use a four-color process, they are not able to match Pantone colors. Please let us know if color matching is an issue and we will make every effort to match Pantone colors as close as possible.


Trim Edge & Safe Zone:

Any text or images that are not meant to run off the edge of your final printed piece should be at least 1/8" (.125) to 1/4" (.25) away from your trim edge. This is called the Safety Line (see below). Due to the very slight shifting that occurs when cutting, any text or images that are too close to the trim edge may be cut off or show inconsistent margins. If you have text or images that do run off the edge of your final printed piece, they must extend at least 1/8" (.125) beyond the trim edge in your file.



What is a "bleed"?  In printing, your products are often printed on a larger sheet than the final product, then cut to size. If you have colors on your product that stretch to the edge of the document (or "bleed" off the side of the paper), it's best to let those colors stretch, or "bleed" past the edge of the product size. That ensures your colors go all the way to the edge of your document.

For this reason files that have text, images, or colors that run beyond the trim line of your final printed piece must be submitted with an extra 1/8" (.125) border all around. For example, a full bleed business card would be 2.25" x 3.75". 



Spell Check:

Be sure to run spell check before converting your file. It is always a good idea to have a second (or third) pair of eyes proofread your project.



When possible, send your pdf document with outlined fonts, or flattened. If you are sending a Publisher, Illustrator, Photoshop or inDesign File, it is important to also send us any font files we might need.


File Types:

For best results, send your file as a print-ready pdf (Portable Document File). Adobe PDFs are a universal file format that can be viewed on virtually every computer, regardless of fonts or software that might be installed on the computer. PDF is an ideal format for print documents as they will most accurately reflect the printed outcome. Depending on the software you are using to create your file, you can usually convert your file by looking for something that says "Save As" or "Export As" and setting the outputted file type to pdf. You may also print to PDF with the installation of PDF print driver on your computer.  Both commercial and free PDF drivers are available online for download.

We also accept industry-standard graphic file formats, including Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, TIFF, EPS, and JPG.  Contact us if you don't see your preferred file format listed here.

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