How to Prepare a Print Ready File

At ISS, Inc. all of our printing services use high resolution pdfs. For a variety of reasons, all printed products, everything from business cards to brochures to vinyl banners can look different than they appear on a computer screen. Here are some key ways to create a print ready file. And even after following these guidelines, we offer free proofs to ensure the printed item looks perfectly accurate.

File type: High resolution pdf. A print ready, high resolution pdf has four main attributes: Resolution, color mode, fonts and layers. In order for a file to print most accurately, the file should be saved at 300 DPI, be exported in CMYK color mode, have all fonts embedded or outlined, and have all layers flattened.

Bleeds: Many designs include graphics that extend right to the edge of a printed item. In order to print to the edge, the digital file must extend that graphic an extra 1/8th inch (0.125″) beyond the edge of the piece. That extra 1/8th inch gets cut off to create an image that extends right the edge of the paper.

Safety margins: All text and graphics that don’t bleed need to be at least 1/8th inch from the edge of the piece. Important information like contact details are frequently positioned at the bottom of a brochure and need to be at least 1/8th inch from the bottom of the product to prevent it from being cut off.

Borders: When a design includes a border, that border needs to be an 1/8th inch thick. There can be slight shifting during the printing process, and at least an 1/8th inch border ensures that the border doesn’t appear off center.

Transparencies: Design programs are very good at creating complex design elements by combining many different effects in layers upon each other. Unfortunately, that complexity can lead to problems when the file is printed. To ensure there aren’t any problems with transparencies, which include drop shadows, glows, and other effects, never place a transparency over a spot color. Always convert the file to CMYK and flatten the layers before sending it to print.

Here’s an example of a business card template with guidelines for bleeds, safety margins, and borders.