File Preparation Tips / File Setup

Popular File Formats

.AI – Adobe Illustrator. Convert all fonts to outlines and embed any linked graphics.
.INDD – Adobe InDesign. Converting your fonts to outlines is recommended if you are not using True Type
.JPG or .JPEG – Photographic images. Set your camera to the highest resolution if using your own photos. Note that most JPEG images downloaded from the web are low quality and unsuitable for printing.
.PSD – Adobe Photoshop. Flatten your layers before submitting your files
.TIF or .TIFF – This graphic file format will retain the highest possible image quality.


Does your artwork contain images, text, or graphics that extend to the very edge of the finished piece? This is called “bleeding off the edge” or simply “bleed.” Files with bleed need to be built to the final trim size with 1/8″ extra on each side for the bleed.

Example:  if you are ordering an 8.5″ x 11″ sell sheet, the graphic file’s size should 8.75″ x 11.25″.

The illustration on the right shows two invitations. The left invitation features a design with bleed (finished size plus an extra .125″ on each side). The invitation on the right does not.


How do I create bleed in my design?

To create bleed in your design, simply make sure the background color, graphic, or image you want to bleed extends off the final trim edge of the page by .125″ (3mm).

If you are creating your file in an application such as InDesign, bleed preferences are available in your document setup. If they are not present, you must make your document height and width dimensions .25″ (6mm) larger than your final trim size. For example, if the finished size is 8.5″ x 11″, then make your document 8.75″ x11.25″. Position guides that are .125″ from each edge. Add any background color, graphic, or images that you want to bleed so that they extended past your guides – all the way to the outside edge of the document. Remember, the extra .125″ will be cut off after your piece is printed.

Color Mode

Do you need your piece printed in color? Files that contain color text, artwork, or images must be saved in four color “CMYK” (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) color mode. Files submitted in the RGB or with Pantone colors will need to be converted to CMYK. Note that converting RGB to CMYK may cause color shifts as they are not from the same color spectrum.
(Note: in certain applications, a spot color ink can be used for Pantone matching)


Does your piece contain a graphic or artistic border close to the paper edge? When trimming paper, there is a cutting tolerance of 1/16″ which may result in uneven borders. For this reason, we do not recommend borders. However, if they are necessary for your piece, the border should be at least 3/8″ from the trim line + additional bleed. If working with standard bleed, this equals approximately 1/4 inch total.


Are you using vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign? For vector files, all text should be converted to outlines before creating the file (preferably PDF) for production.
Are you using a bitmap-based (a.k.a. raster) software application such as Adobe Photoshop? For bitmap files, simply flatten the image. Avoid font sizes smaller than 8 pts or fonts that are very narrow as these may not print well, will lack crispness, or may not display well against dark backgrounds.

Safety Zone

When creating a booklet or similar piece that requires spiral or wire-o binding, it is important to be mindful of the safety zone. Printed sheets are punched to accommodate the binding and may interfere with images or text. Establish a “safety zone” of at least 3/8″ from the edge of the final binding edge. To avoid any images or text being cut off when the piece is bound, do not place them in the safety zone.


Image Resolution

While your computer screen can display low resolution images well, when printed, they will look pixelated, blurry, or jagged. For best printing results, a resolution of at least 300 dpi is recommended. Files with a resolution lower than 300 dpi can be printed, but the results may be unsatisfactory.


Do you have lines on your piece? All lines should be at least .25 pts thick to make them printable. Thinner lines may display on your screen but be too thin to print.