Getting your artwork files ready for commercial printing
If you are preparing your own artwork for production, rather than going through our studio, it will make the process easier in the long run if you follow some simple rules at the outset. If you are fairly new to this, it is probably worth doing some background reading around the subject… See the links at the end of this page.
Page size, layout and bleed
Always set your page size to be the intended finished size of the job, ie., if you are producing an A4 booklet, set your page size to be 210 x 297mm, and do not create an A4 with crops added on to a larger page.
Any element which extends to the edge of the page should extend outwards over the edge of the page by 3mm (this is called ‘bleed’). Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. It is necessary to give us a small amount of space to allow for paper, design or trimming inconsistencies. You should create this in your document by extending any bleed elements out over the page edge – if you want a block of colour 10mm deep at the head of your page, for example, you should create a box with x and y co-ordinates of -3mm and -3mm, and a size of 216 x 13mm.
If you are creating a multi-page document, think about how it is to be finished before setting it up. Eg, if the job is to be saddle stitched or perfect bound, you can set it up as facing pages with bleed on the three trim edges (head, foot and outside edge) but not on the binding edge where in fact no trimming is to be done. If your document is to be wiro bound, it will need to be cut on all four edges so should be set up as single non-facing pages with bleed to all four edges.
Preparing images for professional printing
Images should always be saved at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi at the size you wish to use them. Higher resolutions than this will not be a problem but will increase the size of your files. It is not a good idea to create all of the artwork for a job in an image manipulation programme such as Photoshop, as this can lead to elements of the job that should be rendered as vectors (such as type or graphics) having to be rendered as bitmaps at a fixed resolution, which will result in a lower quality output.
One bit images (bitmaps) should be saved at a minimum resolution of 600 dpi, but preferably 1200 dpi.
Colour images should always be saved as CMYK files, unless you are working with special colours, in which case they should be saved as DCS2 eps files, with the spot colours as an additional channel.
Quark or InDesign for commercial print
These are the most commonly used professional layout applications, and we accept files in both PC and Macintosh format. Before submitting work, please gather all links and fonts used together in one place, using the “File/Collect for Output” menu in Quark, or “File/Package” in InDesign.
Pdf files can be exported from InDesign, or created by making a postscript file, and distilling it using Acrobat Distiller. Other applications may have their own “export to pdf” drivers, but these are not generally reliable enough for print work. It’s well worthwhile reading our article about print-ready PDFs.
The safest accepted standard for creating print-ready pdf files is PDF/X-1.a. If you are working in InDesign, you can load our presets from our website.
Links, resources, background reading