Art Preparation Checklist.
Preparing files for print can be a complex task, and those unfamiliar with the process will occasionally overlook certain steps, resulting in additional costs or delays. Below we've compiled a checklist we hope you'll find helpful in the preparation of your artwork. Please take the time to go through the list and verify that you have not overlooked any of these steps before sending us your files. It may take a little extra time from your busy schedule, but it could end up saving you considerable time and possible additional charges later.
Digital Template: Start by contacting us to request a digital template for the product style you have purchased. Use this template in your page layout program to position your art elements properly aligned. Usually some areas of the design will be positioned "upside down" or rotated to appear correctly on the final product. The template will identify these areas. Export the template file into your page layout, onto a separate layer.
Fonts: Please verify that you have included all fonts used in your job.
Linked Files: If you've linked or placed any files, you must also send us those files for us to be able to print the job.
Image Resolution: If your images are in a lower resolution than our specifications listed below under Scanning & Resolution, they may not be printable. They may look ok printed out on a laser or inkjet printer, but those devices are not representative of what will come off a commercial press.
Bleeds: Please be sure to apply 1/8" bleed in the appropriate places.
Color Space: Are your files submitted in CMYK format? We can not print RGB files. RGB files must be converted to CMYK before they can be printed on a press.
Proof: Have you included composite and separated printouts with your files?
Layout: Is your job properly laid out using the correct measurements for your final product style?
Program: Are your files prepared using one of the programs listed in our compatible applications list above?
*Note about PDF files: At the present time we do not support PDF workflow. Please send us your files in their native file format (the program your artwork was created in such as: Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop, QuarkXpress,etc.) please do not convert your files to PDF format. If you must send us PDF files please contact our art department for further information.
This step can save considerable time in reviewing your digital files. If you provide us with a color proof and a separated proof of your design, when we examine your files we can tell very quickly if what we're seeing on the screen is what you intended. Text reflow is one of of the most common examples of problems that can be avoided if we have a proof in hand when reviewing your files.
Please use a Pantone swatch book when choosing colors. While many of today's output devices reproduce vivid details and brilliant colors, artwork printed on laser or ink jet printers, or other digital output devices, will not provide an accurate representation of what a commercial offset press will output. Your computer monitor likewise should not be used to determine desired colors for commercial printing. Please use the correct Pantone books for coated or uncoated paper when selecting your colors.
Also, if you are using Pantone colors, please use the correct color swatches in your computer programs when working with your art.
A Few Words About Fonts
Fonts are a very important part of every job. Often what sets a particular job apart from the rest is the designer's choice of fonts. Therefore it is especially important that you include any fonts you use in your job with the files you send. Even if they are common fonts, there may be subtle differences between, for example, the Helvetica on your computer and the Helvetica on our computer. We have only a font name to go by, and no way of knowing if your font differs in any way from our font by the same or similar name. Also, when possible, always use Type1 fonts rather than TrueType fonts in PC files. For Macintosh files, only Type1 fonts will be accepted. Please do not set text in PhotoShop or any other raster art program unless you are using PhotoShop "filters" on the text. All "plain" text should be set in a vector art or page layout program. If you are uncertain about the text in your artwork, please consult with us first for clarification.
Please do not apply any trapping to your files. For information on how to determine if your program is automatically applying trapping, see the section specific to your program below.
Line Weights, Borders & Outlines
Line weights, borders and outlines should be explicitly defined as .25pt or larger for offset printing, or .75pt or larger for screen printing. Lines smaller than these may print inconsistently or not at all. Never select hairline as the line weight. Different programs may define hairline as different weights, and they may use a weight that will not print well for your job.
Whenever colors run off the edge of the page, this is referred to as a bleed. You should allow extra "bleed" past the edge, to ensure proper registration of the printing to the die-cutting of the final product. Please use a measurement of 1/8" when setting bleed on your art.
Scanning & Image Resolution
When scanning Line Art, a final resolution of 1200 to 2400 dpi is desired. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the final print. Lower resolutions may result in jagged edges or "feathering." "Line Art" is any black and white art, drawing, text, etc. that does not contain screen tints. Line art should be scanned in bitmap or line art mode at the size it will be printed, and it should be saved as a bitmap or a tiff file.
If you find it necessary to scan color or black and white photos, the final printed output should be a minimum of 350 dpi. Please take into consideration whether you have enlarged or reduced your images, either within an image manipulation program such as PhotoShop, or by resizing placed files within Quark Xpress or PageMaker. It is preferable not to resize images from within your layout program if it can be avoided, but to use the likes of PhotoShop to resize images (note: this applies to cropping images as well). Resizing your image will change its resolution as follows: resolution of original scan divided by enlargement or reduction percentage equals final resolution (example: a 200 dpi scan reduced 50% results in a 400 dpi final resolution, whereas a 350 dpi scan enlarged to 150% results in a final resolution of 233 dpi). All color images should be scanned as CMYK if possible, and saved as .tiff or .eps files. Do not use .jpeg compression when saving .eps files.
If your image is going to be rotated 90 or 180 degrees in your final layout, please perform this rotation in an image manipulation program such as PhotoShop before placing it in your layout program instead of rotating it within the layout program.
All color images should be converted to CMYK (not RGB) before placing them in your layout program or submitting them to us for placement.
Note: Although it is possible to increase the resolution of a file in PhotoShop, this does not help the printable quality of the image.
When color correcting your scans, don't rely on the colors you see on your monitor. The only dependable way to check the colors in your scan is to sample various parts of the scan with your program's eyedropper tool and compare the CMYK values with a color matching book.