We are always happy to print our customers’ files, but we appreciate there are certain pitfalls that often aren’t obvious, but can result in the job not printing as expected, or even at all.
Following these guidelines should help avoid issues and ensure your job prints as you would wish.
PDF files are preferred.
Many software packages will export your document to a .pdf file. This format helps us by embedding the font information within the file, negating the need to supply the fonts along with the job.
We can open and print on any device and reduces the file size down, making the file faster and easier to send electronically.
Normally you can simply ‘Save as’ or ‘Export’ from the ‘File’ menu, or ‘print’ via a virtual printer– consult your software’s documentation.
When you generate your PDF you may be required to to tick boxes and/or enter values. Typically a resolution value should be 300dpi or ‘high’, “auto compression” set on high and font embedding set to ’embed all fonts’.
Below is a link to a website that can convert any of the above files into a useable PDF, it is easy-to-use and will do it for you right there online. IT’S FREE!
Printing right up to the edge
Normally when you print a standard size page with elements on it that extend right up to the edge, the printer physically stops short of the edge and leaves an unprinted strip. If the print should fall off the edges, the technique used is BLEED and it will ensure that your final document retains a professional look without unsightly white strips left behind.
To include a bleed area, you will need to extend the object(s) on your page off the edge by about 3mm and include CROP MARKS. If you’re using design software such as InDesign, Illustrator or Quark this is taken care of for you, but in most other business and consumer packages such as Word, Powerpoint, even Publisher, you will need to use a custom document size which will be larger than the original size to accommodate the bleed and trim marks and YOU WILL NEED TO MANUALLY SET THEM UP. For anyone not confident in this, it is probably better to use a design without elements which print to the edges.
We print your document on an oversized sheet and trim it out using the crop marks to guide the guillotine, so you are then left with a printed page the correct size with no unprinted areas. See also the graphic below.
Please note that there is a 2mm tolerance for cutting on all jobs.
When there’s no bleed included
For example, an A4 document where this has not been done, we have no choice but to scale the print up a few percent to give us some bleed area to cut off. This is often not desirable as other elements will have crept closer to the edges and it may spoil the look of your print. Much better to design this into your document before sending it to us.
Bitmap-type images, e.g. JPEG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
These should be supplied at a resolution of 300dpi at the finished size. It is best to create new files at their finished size and set the 300dpi at this stage rather than trying to change it later.
Remember that any ‘live’ fonts in your document should be rasterised so we don’t experience missing font errors (n/a for JPEGs). Do note however that text alterations can’t be made later to flattened images.
Image files are usually in the ‘RGB’ colour model – but be aware that printers works in CMYK and therefore a conversion takes place and you may notice it looks different to your screen image. RGB has a much larger ‘gamut’ (range) of colours, many can’t be produced from CMYK, so the printer picks the nearest in range. Often this will mean you colours are not how you expect, however if your software will convert to CMYK, you will get a far better idea of how the final print will look.
If colour is of particular importance, we advise obtaining an initial ‘proof’ print.
Accepted file formats
We can work with most formats but advise checking with us if not in the following list:
- Adobe PDF (a.k.a. Acrobat) – our preferred format in most instances
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) – PDF preferred if possible
- Adobe Photoshop (PSD files, we also use to handle TIFF, JPEG, EPS (bitmap), GIF and PNG
- Adobe Illustrator (AI and EPS (vector) files) – include all embedded images and convert all text to curves. Note: we are currently on CS3 if supplying native files.Note: these files will be processed on an Apple Mac computer system.
- QuarkXPress – we prefer PDF but we can take version 7.5 or below files. Always ‘Collect for Output’ so that all files required for printing the job are included. Note: these files will be processed on an Apple Mac computer system.
Imposition i.e. 2-up, 4-up, etc.
Please only send files to us as a single image (1-up), i.e. don’t duplicate as multiple instances. We have software to create impositions as we need them which meet our specific requirements. Your own imposition will likely only cause difficulty for us rather than help as we will need to delete the duplicates and re-position the original image.
Supplying artwork for litho printing on the press
We advise against doing this normally, as our requirements are fairly specific and even experienced designers often don’t comply without us needing to do further preparation work, potentially adding to the cost and delaying things.
If pursuing this route, we recommend talking your project through with our staff well before.