No matter how brilliant your design is, your work won’t print properly unless the artwork has been set up correctly for print. The following guide provides you with all the information that you need to create perfect files for high resolution printing.

Quick Guide to Press Quality Files

The best way to supply your artwork is as press quality PDF (Portable Document Format) files, especially if a quick turnaround time is required. Everything needed for high resolution printing can be distilled into one file that can be opened and printed using Adobe’s Acrobat on any computer. The trick is to create your PDF the correct way and pack it with the essential information for high resolution digital and press quality offset printing
Here are a few of the minimum requirements for a press quality PDF file to be usable for high resolution printing:
All fonts used in the document should be embedded in the PDF file. The subset fonts preference should be set to 100%.

All colour in the document should be CMYK if the print process is CMYK. Convert all Pantone colours to CMYK unless you are printing spot Pantone (PMS) colours. This goes for text colours as well as photos and illustrations.

Make sure the resolution of colour and greyscale images is not downsampled to less than 300 ppi and monochrome bitmapped images are not less than 1200 ppi.

Ensure you include crop marks and at least 3mm bleed.

Ensure the transparency flattener option is set for medium to high resolution when the PDF is created.

Take off any security passwords so we have full read/write access to your PDF files.

Would you like to download a Free copy of our complete Design and Pre-Press Checklist, an easy tool for graphic designers?

 
If you follow these guidelines, your PDF will work for high resolution printing. The same PDF will also work in all the processes that require less resolution.

Do you need more details on creating perfect press-quality files for printing? Keep reading…

The Network Printing Studios Complete Guide to Creating Press Quality Files

Getting the file format correct

Network Printing Studios accepts finished artwork files in PDF, EPS or JPG formats, or in professional graphics page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. PDF and EPS files should have all layers and transparencies flattened with all text converted to outlines (vector curves). Orders submitted in other file formats may incur an additional pre-press file processing fee from your printer.

Embed your fonts or convert them to outlines

Network Printing Studios accepts finished artwork files in PDF, EPS or JPG formats, or in professional graphics page layout programs such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. PDF and EPS files should have all layers and transparencies flattened with all text converted to outlines (vector curves). Orders submitted in other file formats may incur an additional pre-press file processing fee from your printer.

Page layout programs

All page layout programs allow you to export your files as press quality PDFs. Convert artwork from these programs to press quality PDF files before submitting them for print.

Vector and image files

Convert all fonts to outlines (curves). This insures your fonts will be objects and will prevent text defaulting and printing incorrectly. This is a very important, and often overlooked step.

Microsoft programs

It is not recommended to use Word, Publisher or other Microsoft programs for your print files. Microsoft programs can reproduce text as a CMYK black instead of just black and images as RGB instead of CMYK and they are often low resolution files. Microsoft files will usually incur extra pre-press file preparation fees as it is necessary for your files to be fixed so they are OK for offset printing. Trust us, you will get a much better result if you employ our designers to create your artwork in a professional page layout program.

Are your print files high resolution?

Your artwork files should be 300 dpi resolution (dots per inch or pixels per inch) at actual final print size. Screen resolution 72 dpi images from the internet will not output correctly, they will pixelate and look fuzzy. Converting 72 dpi web files to 300 dpi does not make them high resolution.

Are your files CMYK, Pantone or RGB?

Commercial printing equipment uses process colour and Pantone inks. Process colour utilises Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) inks to reproduce the full colour spectrum. Pantone Matching System (PMS) are inks used for spot colours. Many Pantone colours will convert to CMYK with close representation, however accuracy is not guaranteed. Your computer monitor uses Red, Green, Blue (RGB) colour space. Colours you see on your monitor will not accurately reflect CMYK and Pantone colours on your final printed piece. Remember, PDF proofs are not made for colour matching, only for content approval.

Overprinting text and images

The pre-press workflow processes colours, images and separations with the settings you save in your artwork file. It will retain any overprint settings: eg. yellow text overprinting a blue background will print green; white text overprinting any colour will disappear. In most page layout programs 100% black text is the only thing set to overprint by default. (Of course, if we see something that will not output correctly we will contact you, however we cannot be held responsible for unexpected results because your files were set up incorrectly. If you have any questions regarding image resolution, colour separations and overprinting, please contact our Pre-press Studio Manager to review your files.)

100% black – for text and fine lines

One-colour black (100% Black) should be used for text (under 18 pt) and fine solid lines and illustrations to ensure crisp reproduction. If you build your blacks with four process colours (CMYK) on small text areas they will produce blurry and at times unreadable text.

Rich black – for large solids

If you fill larger headings, backgrounds and panels on your page with one-color black, they will reproduce dark grey as the ink dries. Rich Black is an ink mixture of solid black (100%K) over one or more of the other CMYK colours. This results in a darker, richer tone than black ink alone can generate in the printing process. A typical rich black mixture may be (50%C 40%M 30%Y 100%K). Other percentages are used to achieve specific results, for example, Cool Black (70%C 30%M 40%Y 100%K) or Warm Black (30%C 60%M 60%Y 100%K).

Total ink density – make sure the ink will dry

Total ink density is the total amount of CMYK ink in a given area of an image. In theory, an area of a four-colour image that is totally black has a total ink density of 400% (100%C 100%M 100%Y 100%K). Too much ink! Because of dot gain and press conditions, you should not have a total ink density above 300% for coated stock, 280% uncoated stock and 250% for newsprint and textured recycled stocks. Ink coverage greater than 280-300% will not dry properly and may cause picking, scuffing and ink set-off on your final printed product.

Check your bleed and live type margins

When a page is trimmed to size, the bleed ensures that colours and images can extend to the very edge of the trimmed page, resulting in no unwanted white areas around edges. Standard bleed for most printing processes is between 3 mm and 6 mm beyond the trimmed size of the artwork. This bleed will be cut off. It is important that you do not position any vital or live content such as text or images that are important to the document in the outer margins and bleed areas. The live type margin should be set 5 mm to 8 mm in from the trimmed document page. This will ensure that nothing of importance will be cut off. If your document is a bound book or magazine you will need to allow a larger live type safety zone along the spine margins.

Single pages, not spreads

You probably prefer to design your artwork on-screen in spreads or facing pages, so you can view it as it will appear when printed. Great, we do too! However, if you supply your file to your printer in spreads or with pages out of order, it makes it difficult to impose your file for the printing press, so be sure that you place each page in running order and change your settings to single pages, including crop marks and document bleed, before you save your artwork for print. Whenever possible, artwork should be supplied to your printer with a hard copy printout so that formatting can be checked before output of a printer’s proof. A mock-up of your job should also be supplied to ensure there is a complete understanding of the finished product.

Would you like to download a Free copy of our complete Design and Pre-Press Checklist, an easy tool for graphic designers?

 
Our aim is to provide you with all the information that you need to help you provide the best professional service to your clients and ensure the final printed products created are perfect.

Do you need more information about designing for print? Contact us anytime, we are happy to help. Network Printing Studios, Phone: (02) 8399 2444, Email: easy@networkprinting.com.au.

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