Have a Question About Preparing Files for Printing?
We're here to help you and your job move successfully through the printing process.
These general guidelines can help you prepare graphics and image files,
regardless of the platform or applications you're using.
Still have questions? Give us a call at 707 257 6555.
PRE-PRESS & FILE PREP QUICK LINKS
Click the links below for additional file set up information
Preflight Checklist for Submitted Files
A final spell check was done and there are no misspelled words.
The only colors in the file are those to be printed.
Spot colors are defined as spot colors and process colors are defined to separate as four-color process.
PMS colors are defined identically throughout all imported graphics files.
Imported images are built in the correct color space to be separated as required.
A 1/8" (.125") bleed has been built into the document if necessary.
All imported images are the proper resolution (300 DPI/150 LPI) for the required press linescreen.
All imported images have the correct corresponding colors to be printed.
All imported images are built in the correct color space for separations, e.g., CMYK vs. RGB, spot vs. process.
All imported images are an appropriate format for printing, e.g., tiff or eps vs. gif or jpeg.
Any low-resolution FPO images have been replaced with their high-resolution counterpart.
There are no fonts in your imported images. Fonts have been rasterized in Photoshop or converted to outlines in Illustrator.
Fonts are defined in the document using the actual font, not QuarkXpress fake bold or italic.
You have both the printer and screen fonts available for all typefaces used to send to the printer.
COLLECT FOR OUTPUT / PACKAGE FILES
A collect for output has been done and all images, fonts, and graphics are in a folder uploaded or delivered.
If your artwork goes all the way to the edge of the page, you need to make sure you include 1/8” "bleed" in your artwork on all four sides.
Building a file to include bleeds only works when it's specified in the file. This pertains to files built in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.
Steps for Building Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign
Go to "File" then "Document Set Up."
Under the "Bleed" section, set bleeds to .125" on all four sides.
This will establish a red outline box on the file.
Build your artwork to extend all the way to the red bleed line.
From either Illustrator or InDesign, you need to export the file as a press-ready PDF with bleeds:
Go to "File" then "Export."
Choose "Press-Ready PDF" quality at the top of the screen (you will now be in Adobe Acrobat).
Under "Marks and Bleeds," make sure that "Use Document's Bleed Settings" is CHECKED.
Export and save the PDF.
DPI / IMAGE RESOLUTION
Images should be at a maximum of 300 DPI. Photos taken at high resolution and embedded directly into files bloats the files and takes a huge amount of time to compute to print. Please include all files as links whenever possible.
Here's a quick primer on raster vs. vector:
photographs = great color detail, but can’t enlarge without becoming blurry
fonts/logos = ability to enlarge without losing quality, but limited color detail
Here's a not-so-quick primer on raster vs. vector (courtesy of ):
A raster graphic is an image made of hundreds (or thousands or millions) of tiny squares of color information, referred to as either pixels or dots. The most common type of raster graphic? A photograph. The designer’s preferred program for creating and editing raster files? You guessed it: Adobe Photoshop.
Popular raster file format extensions include jpg/jpeg, psd, png, tiff, bmp, and gif.
Pros of Raster Images
Rich detail: Ever wondered what the term “DPI” stands for? It means “dots per inch,” a measurement of how much detailed color information a raster image contains. Say you’ve got a 1” x 1” square image at 300 DPI—that’s 300 individual squares of color that provide precise shading and detail in your photograph. The more DPI your image contains, the more subtle details will be noticeable.
Precise editing: All of those individual pixels of color information can also be modified, one by one. So if you’re a true perfectionist, the level of editing and customization available in a raster image is almost limitless.
Cons of Raster Images
Blurry when enlarged: The biggest downfall for raster images is that they become pixelated (a.k.a. grainy) when enlarged. Why is this? Well, there are a finite number of pixels in all raster images; when you enlarge a photo, the computer takes its best guess as to what specific colors should fill in the gaps. This interpolation of data causes the image to appear blurry since the computer has no way of knowing the exact shade of colors that should be inserted.
Large file size: Remember how a 1” x 1” square at 300 DPI will have 300 individual points of color information for the computer to remember? Well, let’s say you have an 18” x 24” photo—that’s 129,600 bits o’ info for a computer to process, which can quickly slow down even the faster machine.
A vector graphic uses math to draw shapes using points, lines, and curves. So whereas a raster image of a 1” x 1” square at 300 DPI will have 300 individual pieces of information, a vector image will only contain four points, one for each corner; the computer will use math to “connect the dots” and fill in all of the missing information. The most common types of vector graphics? Fonts and logos. The designer’s preferred program for creating and editing vector files? Adobe Illustrator.
Popular vector file format extensions include eps, ai, and pdf.
Pros of Vector Images
Infinitely scalable: Through the wonders of math (which I don’t claim to understand), vector files can be scaled up or down as much as you want without losing any image quality. Whereas a raster image must guess the colors of missing pixels when sizing up, a vector image simply uses the original mathematic equation to create a consistent shape every time.
Smaller file size: Using our previous 1” x 1” square example, a vector file needs only four points of data to recreate a square, versus 300 individual pixels for a raster image. For simple graphics, like geometric shapes or typography, this means a much smaller file size and faster processing speed.
Edibility: Unlike popular raster-based formats, such as a jpg or png, vector files are not “flattened.” When you open ‘em back up in a program such as Adobe Illustrator, all of the original shapes exist separately on different layers; this means you can modify individual elements without affecting other objects in the image.
Cons of Vector Images
Limited details: Because of the mathematical way that a vector remembers data, it's not practical for complex images that require exact coloring. Sure, you can create basic color gradients, but you’ll never be able to match the color detail available in a raster image, where each individual pixel can be its own individual shade.
Limited effects: By definition, vector graphics are created from simple points and lines. This means they can’t handle certain styling effects, like blurring or a drop shadow, that are available with raster images.
Convert all spot colors to process colors (mixes of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black).
Convert all RGB colors to process colors. Our system also does this automatically, but it's a good idea to do it yourself as it can affect expectations and color accuracy.
Set up large areas of black coverage with the following values: 50 cyan, 50 magenta, 20 yellow, 100 black.
Small black text (under 18 point) and rules (under 6 point) should be left 100 percent black only.
Package gathers copies of all images and fonts used in the document along with a copy of the InDesign document itself into a single folder that you can easily deliver to a print service provider or to a colleague. You can even use this option to archive completed jobs, to make sure that all necessary elements are stored together. Here’s how:
The Package dialog box opens. The Summary screen shows you all current images and fonts in the document, based on an analysis of that document.
Click Fonts in the list on the left side of the dialog box.
Any fonts in your document are listed on this screen. Select fonts from this list and click the Find Font button to discover where they’re located. These fonts are saved directly into the package folder when you finish.
Click Links and Images in the list on the left side of the dialog box.
The Links and Images screen lists the images within your document. Find the image, update it, and repair links before packing the file. If any images aren’t properly linked, your document is incomplete and prints with pictures missing.
When you’re finished, click the Package button at the bottom of the dialog box.
Your document and all its associated files are saved into a folder. You’re given the opportunity to name the folder and specify a location on your hard drive.