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Help Center > Preparing Materials

File Preparation Tips

How to prepare your file:
  • Export or save your files as PDF using the PRESS QUALITY or PDFx-1a preset from your layout program. Please make sure it includes a min. 0.125" bleed, crop marks, Color mode CMYK.
  • If you don't have the option to save it as PDF, you can save/export your file as TIFF or JPEG format, 300 dpi (Photoshop)-with min. 0.125" bleed, CMYK.
  • If you can’t save your file as TIFF directly from the program that you created your file in, save your file as EPS then open your EPS file in Photoshop and save it as TIFF or JPEG format. Before saving your file as EPS, make sure all your fonts and placed images are linked correctly. All placed images should be 300dpi (high resolution). Convert all text/fonts to outline if you are using a vector application e.g. Corel Draw, Freehand and Adobe Illustrator.
  • A hard copy must accompany all jobs, faxed or supplied.
  • All jobs are subject to cancellation fee after the job has gone through preflight or production.
  • We are not responsible for quality of text when you convert your files to TIFF, JPEG or EPS, as you may know this might change the sharpness of your text.
How to submit your file:
  • All type should be easily read and of a dark density.
  • When creating files on vector based software such as InDesign or Illustrator, all text must be converted to outlines before generating a final PDF or EPS.
  • To maintain quality, black line copy should be a minimum 6 pts. sans serif medium font.
  • Fine lines and rules should be restricted to one color.
  • Specify the rule width to maintain consistency.  The use of “hairline” rules should be avoided.
  • Type may be reversed out of screens, PMS areas, or separations.
  • To maintain quality, reverse type should be a minimum 8 pts. sans serif bold face font.
  • Please set black object and type over 18 pts. to be 60C, 40M, 40Y, 100K.
  • Type should extend no closer than 1/8” of trim.
  • Fonts should be Type 1 PostScript fonts or OpenType.  Type 1 fonts require screen and printer fonts to be supplied with submission.
  • Please avoid the use of Truetype fonts if possible.  Truetype fonts do not yield consisted results.
  • To avoid any delays to your files please outline and/or vectorized your fonts when supplying final PDFs or EPS documents.
    • TIFF files should be saved with no LZW compression.
    • EPS files should be saved with Mac preview and Binary encoding and no compression, outline all fonts.
    • Copy Dot scans must have a resolution of 2400 dpi.
    • 8-bit (grayscale) and 24-bit (color) scans should have an effective resolution between 225-350 dpi.
    • Line art scans should have a minimum effective resolution of 600 dpi.
    • Total ink coverage of a scan should not exceed 320%.
    • Images should be scanned as close to 100% of final size as possible.
    Files, Applications, & Folders:
    • Please avoid the use of special characters in file and folder names such as: < > / \: * ? “ |
    • PostScript files are to be written according to specifications outline in PostScript Submission for Computer to Plate (PDF) customer guide.
    • Please supply us with die lines (set to overprint) and any other special instructions, so your file can be expedited in a timely fashion.
    How to upload your files:

    Getting Started                                                                                      
    The Enhanced Upload Engine requires Java. You can download the free Java software from

    Using the Upload Engine
    1. You can add multiple files to upload by either dragging the files into the window or by clicking the Add button.
    2. You MUST then click the Start Upload button for the files to be  transferred.
    3. As files are successfully uploaded, a message will appear below the upload engine. Make sure that all files appear in this list. You can upload as many files as you like. Once you are finished uploading, your order is complete.

    If the engine does not load correctly, use an alternative upload method. LInks to our alternate upload methods appear at the bottom of the page.

    General and Technical Info:

    What is Printing?                                                                                       
    Printing is the art, process, or business of producing printed material by means of ink, paper and a printing press.

    What is (4 over 1) or (4 over 4)?
    4/1- Four over one = Full color on the front & 1 color on the back.
    4/4- Four over Four = Full color on both the front & back.
    4/0- Four over zero = Full color on the front, but no color on the back.

    What is CMYK?
    Short for Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black, and pronounced as separate letters. CMYK is a color model in which all colors are described as a mixture of these four process colors. CMYK is the standard color model used in offset printing for full-color documents. Because such printing uses inks of these four basic colors, it is often called four-color printing. Color looks can change if printing on Glossy Paper, Silk or Matt Paper or based on different types of coating.

    What is Pantone Matching Systems (PMS)?
    Pantone (PMS) is the color chart used by printers. Pantone colors are mixed ink colors, identified by a number. This number when used with their "Formula Guide" specifies a mix of certain component ink colors that the printer mixes to put on the press, like mixing paint.  PMS match books are books of color where each PMS color has its own name or number that helps you make sure that your colors are the same each time you print, even if your monitor displays a different color or if you change printing services.

    Pantone has several swatch guides. The most commonly used are:
    1. Coated - Glossy Paper, Satin Paper, Dull Paper.
    2. Uncoated - Flat Paper, Vellum, Smooth Paper.
    3. Metallic - Foil Material mounted to Flat Paper.
    What other types of inks are there?
    • Metallic - Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal. This effect is best  achieved on coated paper.
    • Fluorescent - Produce vibrant and bright colors, however they do not retain their colorfastness as long and may not be suited for big quantity jobs.
    • Soy Based - It is made from soybeans and it is environmentally friendly. It is slower to dry than many inks and it is expensive.
    What is Full Bleed?
    A bleed is when an image extends beyond the trim edge of the product by 1/8". If your image is not white on all four sides, you MUST include bleeds in your files. If your art does not include bleed, when printed and cut, white strips of unprinted paper will appear at the edges.

    What is Finish Size?
    It is the overall size of the printed piece in its completed, folded or  bound form.

    What is Flat Size?
    Flat Size refers to the size of a product after printing and trimming, but before it has been folded or binding.

    What is C2S?
    Short for 'Coated two Sides', refers to paper that is coated on both sides.
    C = Coated / 2 = Two / S = Sides

    What is C1S?
    Short for 'Coated One Side', refers to paper that is coated on one side only.
    C = Coated / 1 = One / S = Side

    What is 14pt Paper stock?    
    All papers have a specific weight or thickness. 14 pt is measured in thickness.
    Example:  14 pt = 14 point thickness = 125 lb.

    What is Coating or Finishing?
    It is a protective layer that increases the durability and aesthetics of your printed piece. You cannot print (ink-jet or by hand), glue, or foil stamp over coatings, so you need to leave an uncoated window if you want to do any of these

    There are several types of coating:

    • Varnish - Varnish is essentially ink without pigment. It comes in gloss, dull, and satin
    • UV Coating - UV Coating is a clear liquid spread over the paper like ink and then cured instantly with ultraviolet light. It can be a gloss or dull coating, and can be used as a spot covering to accent a particular image on the sheet or as an overall (flood) coating. Keep in mind that this thick coating may crack when scored or folded.
    • Aqueous - Also known as AQ, is water based. It has better hold-out than varnish and does not crack or scuff easily. Aqueous does, however, cost twice as much as varnish. Aqueous comes in gloss, dull, and satin.
    What are the different types of Binding?
    Binding a book means attaching sheets together. There are a number of ways to attach sheets together. Some common options include gluing, stitching and sewing. Binding techniques can generally be grouped into these categories:
    • Saddle Stitching - Most common type of binding, is stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.
    • Side Stitching - Stapling the signatures together on the side rather than the fold.
    • Spiral Binding - To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through punched holes.
    • Perfect Binding - The spine or the book is cut and roughened, adhesive is applied to the rough edges and a cover is glued firmly in place. Bleeds and crossovers are also handled differently on perfect bound books.
    What affects printing prices? (Cost)
    1.    Ink and coating
    2.    Paper or material
    3.    Quantity
    4.    Size & # of Pages
    5.    Binding and finishing

    What is Direct-to-plate [digital] printing?
    Digital printing is not an ink-on-paper process; it's a toner-on-paper process. The toner lays on top of the paper, whereas ink soaks into the paper with offset printing. Digital printing can be faster than offset printing because it eliminates the step of producing film, and drying time isn't necessary because there is no ink involve. The job can get pulled off the presses and into the finishing stages immediately. However, since digital printing is not an ink-on-paper process, the look and feel of a digitally printed piece will not be the same as a project printed on an offset machine. For example, if you plan to print solids over a fold or spine, the toner may flake off. Talk to your printer about what to expect, and ask for samples of their work on the paper stock you intend to use.

    If you're producing a project that requires variable data, such as the personalization of direct mail pieces, digital printing is a great tool to accomplish your goals.

    It's also possible to print a job using a combination of offset and digital printing. This creates a whole new set of opportunities and challenges.

    Benefits of Digital Printing
    • Cost-effective for short runs (less than 1000)
    • Fast
    • Variable data capability on some presses

    Disadvantages of Digital Printing
    The print techniques you may be used to with an offset press may vary with digital equipment. Here are some highlights.
    • Looking for a full bleed? You'll need a larger sheet. Toner won't extend off the edges. For example, if you want to print a full bleed on an 8.5 x 11.5 sheet, you'll need to print your image on a larger sized sheet and trim it down.
    • Thin lines or small type reproduced in color may not print as well on digital presses as on offset presses because registration is not always exact. Avoid knock-out type.
    • Digital equipment does not offer spot colors or special finishing techniques such as varnishes.
    • Large blocks of solid may present problems such as flaking and banding.
    • Not as exact in reproducing match colors.
    • Screen (match colors printed at less than 100%) may appear pixelized.
    What are proofs?  
    A general term for a variety of options to show a reasonably close result of what your file will look like when printed.             

    • Analog Proofs - Hard proofs because they are printed on paper or other material. 
    1. Contact Proofs - A contact proof is a type of monochrome prepress proof. Bluelines and Velox are common types of inexpensive contact proofs. A contact proof is generally (though not always) meant primarily to show layout and copy.
    2. Blueline - Usually inexpensive, photographic proof from negatives where all colors are shown in blue (or another color) is called a blueline.
    3. Color Proofs - Also known as Colorkey or Laminate Proofs. These proofs are created from the film separations that places each ink color on a separate clear acetate sheet or film material then either stacked together in alignment (registered) over paper stock or laminated together.
    •  Digital Proofs
    1. Hard Proofs - A color prepress proofing method where a job is printed from the digital file using inkjet, color lasler, dye sublimation or thermal wax print technologies to give a good approximation of what the final printed piece will look like. The digital proof is generally less expensive than other prepress proofs. Digital proofs can often be produced on the actual paper stock of the job adding another element of accuracy. They aren't as accurate for checking trapping and identifying moire problems as overlay and laminate proofs.
    2. Soft Proofs - Also known as PDF or Monitor Proofs are image displayed on a video monitor to visually simulate the expected printing results. It can not be used for exact color matching since it employs the RGB color spectrum of your monitor. It is useful for reviewing content and color breaks.
    • Used on press checks, it is a proof from the printing press, plates, and actual inks specified for the job. A press proof is used to verify images, tone values, colors, and imposition. Because it involves setting up the job and running a proof on the actual paper to be used, it is normally done with the designer on-site (and sometimes your customer as well). It's your last chance to get it right and can add additional cost to the job.
    General Layout Terminology:
    • Head - At the top of a page, the margin
    • Spine - The area in which the Front Cover and Back Cover are attached.
    • Face - Front Cover
    • Back - Back Cover
    • Foot - Bottom
    • Cross Over - An image that crossed over 2 pages.
    • Head-to-Tail or Head to Foot - Imposition with heads (tops) of pages facing tails (bottoms) of other pages.
    • Sheet Wise - to print one side of the sheet or paper with our plate, then turn the sheet over and print.
    • Self Cover - Same material throughout
    • Plus Cover - Thicker stock on the outside.
    • 4 Page Cover - All side printed
    • Proof Check - Before the presses run, the clients checks his artwork.
    • Press Check - To look at actual press run.
    • Press sheet - Equal to a form.
    • Multi Page Catalog - is a signature.
    • Self Cover - When the cover paper is the same basis weight as the text paper, you will call the project a self-cover book.
    • Plus Cover - When the cover is on a heavier or thicker stock, you will call the project a plus-cover.
    • 4 Page Cover - All side printed
    • Press sheet is a form.
    • CD Tray
    • CD Sleeve
    • 2 up
    • Folding with the grain
    • Ghosting - when ink presents its self on the rest of the page.
    • Rip a file - to go through a file
    • Brochure - is folded
    • Catalogs - is stapled