Supplying artwork to printers
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Here are the 10 most important questions you need to know the answers to or at least ask the printer to ensure your design gets printed properly.

1. What file format should I supply my artwork?
In some cases Jpeg files can be accepted but most professional printing companies will print from PDF files, so if you’re not supplying in PDF then they will at some point need to be converted. A jpeg file is already an image, whereas a PDF file will contain image but the text will be ‘vector’ so its very sharp. Supplying Jpeg documents can cause the text to print slightly blurred, as a Jpg file should only really be used for images.

2. Do I need to supply my documents with ‘bleed’?
If your design has colour from edge to edge then we require ‘bleed’. Bleed is when a document is printed slightly bigger than required its then trimmed back to the original size after printing, this is to allow for small movement of your job on the press and guillotine and avoids any unsightly slithers of white around the edges. We require 3mm of bleed on all edges, so if you are printing an A4 document, then we need it to be 216mm x 297mm and then its trimmed back to 210mm x 297mm. Click here to read more on ‘bleed’.

3. Should I supply my artwork in CMYK colours or will RGB be ok?
All printing companies print in CMYK. Any files supplied in RGB colours are prone to a colour shift when converted to CMYK, its much better to convert the colours using the original file so the designer can keep control of any shift, rather than the printer converting it automatically where there is less control. Click here to read more on CMYK / RGB Colours

4. Can I use images I have from the web?
The internet uses images which are only 72dpi (dots per inch) Whereas 300dpi is required for high quality printing. You can use a 72dpi image as long as its 4 x the size you require to use it, so a good rule of thumb is that if you see an image on your screen which is too large to view unless you zoom out then this usually means its of high enough resolution for print. Using a 72dpi image taken directly from the web and imported into your document at the same size you need it, is likely to be too low resolution and this will cause it to print blurry and pixelated. Click here to read more on image resolution.

5. What is ‘push out’ or ‘creep’?
This is when several sheets of paper are folded together, the centre sheets have further to travel around the spine, this make the outer sheets shorter which can cause complications when trimming the document after printing.

This is only a problem when printing brochures with multiple pages above 16 or more pages and if your design has important information such as text near to the edge of the page. In some cases the design has to allow for this, in particular not having pages numbers too close to the edge which can result in them being trimmed off at the final guillotine stage

6. What about pagination?
If you are supplying single or double sided leaflet then we need simply either one or two files supplying. However if you are supplying a booklet of more than 4 pages then we require them as single pages in the running order of page 1 being the front cover, page 2 inside left cover and all the way around to the back cover being your last page. This way we know the running order of the pages.

Pagination is only required if you are supplying a folded leaflet, but this mean a booklet which doesn’t require staples. If we require a 4 page folded leaflet for example then we do need the document to be ‘paginated’. To give you an example, an A4 half folded leaflet would need to be supplied with the back cover on the left and the front cover on the right hand side as one file. Likewise the inner spread would be the same with page 2 on the left and page 3 on the right, again as a single file.

7. Can I supply my files together on one sheet?
If you are supplying your designs on one sheet this can potentially cause problems as we have to plan the designs up for printing, so its best if you can supply separate files as this is more flexible and will ensure you order turnaround is quicker.

8. What if I use Pantone or spot colours?
Pantone colours can be used as a ‘special’ colour and would be part of a bespoke printing order. This means that is you have a full colour job with a Pantone or spot colour maybe applied to your logo, this would be printed as a CMYK job with the pantone as a 5th colour. However this will be more expensive than a standard full colour order, so we can convert the Pantone to CMYK to make it more economical. If this is the preferred method then its better to convert the colours using the original file as if we alter the PDF file then there is the possibility of a colour shift.

9. Do I need to supply my files with ‘crop marks’ or ‘registration marks’?
Ideally yes as it will speed up your order. But it’s not a problem if you aren’t able to add them, we can add them for you.

10. What material should I best?
Choosing the right material for your order is very personal but here are a few things you need to know before making your choice and these are really dependent on what purpose the final printing is for. For example, most leaflets, flyers, posters or brochures are printed onto a ‘coated’ material such as silk or gloss as these hold the colour well and ensure the vibrancy of colour in the final printed item. They are standard materials and are commonly used for full colour printing. These can then be matt laminated or spot uv added as which is intended to make the product feel more luxurious.

However if you require letterheads or compliment slips then these should really only be printed onto a porous uncoated material such as bond, as they are designed to be written onto afterwards so they need a material which will soak up any ink from a ballpoint or ink pen. Trying to write onto a coated material such as gloss is likely to cause smudging, as the ink from your pen takes longer to dry. Likewise any documents, which have forms to be filled out or loyalty cards which may require a hand stamp – need also to be printed onto a non-coated material. In many cases non-coated or recycled materials are used to promote a more traditional business or organisation, and can also be seen as eco friendly. As this material is porous then the colours do have tendency to become slightly muted and not as vibrant as a coated material.

We hope you have found this list of interest, if you have any queries then please get in touch as we will be glad to help.

Dean Williams is a design and marketing blogger working for Print-Print Limited, promoting business and building brands through quality print marketing. If you’re interested in small business promotion then please get in touch hello@print-print.co.uk

About Dean Williams

Dean Williams is a design and marketing blogger working for Print-Print Limited, promoting business and building brands through quality print marketing. If you’re interested in small business promotion then please get in touch hello@print-print.co.uk