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Print-Ready Files

What is a print-ready file? It is one of the most common terms printers use every day, but it can mean different things. Most digital or online printers agree that there are essential elements your file needs to ensure it translates from your computer to the printing press accurately and consistently.

The first step in creating a file for online printing is knowing what format it’s in. A PDF is the best format because of its universal accessibility – any printer has the ability to edit a PDF.

There are many file formats that have broader editing capabilities, such as Adobe Photoshop (.psd format), Illustrator (.ai format) or InDesign (.indd). However, these formats may not always be available for your printer to save as or export to a PDF, or may simply be incompatible with the press itself.

Other formats like Microsoft Document (.docx), PowerPoint, (.ppx) or Publisher (.pub) are not optimized for a printing press. You may also come across formats like .png and .jpeg. There are static images that, if designed correctly, can be printed but leave your printer with no ability to edit at all.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s possible for all of these file formats to be saved, exported or converted to a PDF.

Print-Ready File Requirements

To ensure your file is ready for press and other online printing services, follow these guidelines:

  • All of your images should be high resolution. We recommend images are 300PPI for small format projects like booklets, cards or brochures, and 150PPI for large format projects like signs and banners.
  • Make sure your files use CMYK colors for the most accurate comparison between what you see on your screen and what is produced with the press.
  • Your design files must have the appropriate bleed to ensure any variances in commercial production don’t affect your print. Most commercial printing and cutting has an 1/8″ variance in the event that the machines drift slightly in any direction. Because of this, your finished size should be expanded by 1/4″.

There are other, more advanced options you can explore with your printer, such as flattening transparency objects, utilizing blank pages or spot color and PMS pantones.

But as long as you have a PDF with high resolution images in the CMYK color space with the appropriate bleed, you’ll be well on your way to creating the proper print-ready file and your own brilliant print!

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