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Print-Ready File Creation: OVERVIEW

At, we want your printing experience to be fast, easy, and affordable. An important step in this process is for you to submit your art files as Print-Ready PDFs. All file formats must be flattened, have a resolution of 300dpi, and embedded or outlined fonts. To help you achieve this, we provide as much information about file preparation as possible. The price and time estimates provided to you may be affected if time must be spent correcting file errors. The best way to avoid this is to start the project off on the right foot by ensuring the design file is set up correctly from the very beginning. The main aspects that must be checked and prepared for are:


To prevent your printed product from having unsightly white lines around the border, you must set your document up with bleeds. Bleed refers to an extra 1/8" of the image that extends beyond the trim area of your printing piece. The project is printed on an oversized sheet that is cut down to size with the appearance that the image is “bleeding” off the edge of the paper.

It is best practice to set up your bleeds at the very beginning of your project so you don’t have to adjust at the end.

A few terms you must understand along with bleed are trim line, safety, and borders. Please refer to the graphic below for further explanation.

what are printing Bleeds?
Bleed vs No Bleed

Resolution recommends that the file and/or image resolution should be set at 300 dpi to ensure that the final document is not pixelated (fuzzy) when printed. However, some customers find 180 dpi (or better) to be an acceptable resolution. You must closely review the resolution during the proofing process to determine if there are any issues.

Enlarging an image will lower the resolution while reducing an image will increase the resolution. Enlarging an image in a layout is NOT recommended. Images that are less than 300 dpi could reproduce poorly looking fuzzy or pixelated.

Images from the internet are not recommended, as most images are only 72 dpi.

An unfavorable image cannot be resaved as a different type of file. For example, you cannot place a gif file in Photoshop and resave it as an EPS file. This does not change the compatibility of the file. If you have to use low-resolution images we will print only after you consent to the quality.
High Resolution vs. Low Resolution

What Rich Black for Printing?

Rich Black only comes up in the context of print design because black always looks, well, black on your computer screen. Unfortunately, that’s not the case on paper; at least, not for backgrounds or filled objects/elements, such as a box for text, etc. In those instances, you want to go with the rich option to avoid an unsightly grey in ink. Rich black uses the following CMYK percentages:

C: 60%; M: 40%; Y: 40%; K:100%

As opposed to plain black, which you should use for ALL BLACK TEXT:

C: 0%; M: 0%; Y: 0%; K: 100%

The reason being, you might run into trouble due to the mixture of colors contained in rich black. The extra Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow mean unnecessary ink, which may result in blurry or fuzzy type. You want crisp, clear typography with no offsetting. Here’s a handy graphic to illustrate the difference for you:

*Products that are printed with large format dye-sublimation (9oz Premium Polyester Banner, Flags, Table Covers, Fabric Tube Displays, etc.)
call for the following color values: C 100 M 100 Y 100 K 100

C0, M0, Y0, K100 will usually result in a very dark gray, but not a rich black. We commonly see the default black in Adobe Photoshop used instead of our recommended rich black build. The issue with using C75, M68, Y67, K90 is that it will not print a true rich black. That configuration is the result of converting true black in RGB to CMYK. The print result will generally be muddy due to the oversaturated color build.

Where you do not want to use a rich black is in small black text. Because the 4 primary print colors have to be registered or aligned when printing, a rich black build of fine type or text will show the tiniest misregistration on the printmaking the text not appear crisp and sharp.

Page Count

We require that any booklet files be sent as single pages, not spreads. In the files, page 1 should be the front cover and the last page should be the back cover (see below).

Example for an 8 Page Document:

  • In the image below, Page 1 is the Front Cover
  • The Inside Front Cover is Page 2
  • The last page is the Back Cover, Page 8.
    Page Count’s prepress department will personally arrange the single pages from your PDF onto front and back sheets. For this reason, we do not accept spreads.
Single Page in Online Printing


To ensure price quote and design accuracy, it is crucial that the size of the order matches the size of the PDF. The PDF (saved with bleed) should be .25 inches larger for both the length and width than your desired product size. For example, if you are ordering an 8.5” x 11” booklet, the dimensions of your PDF document (saved with bleed) should be 8.75” x 11.25”. For more information on size, just give your Local VIP Print Concierge.

Booklets, Books, Magazines, Catalogs, Booklet Brochures, Programs, and other Multi-Page Products:
Booklet, Catalog and Magazine Sizes

Calendar Sizes

Greeting Cards:
Greeting Card Sizes

Brochures and Flyers:
Brochure and Flyer Sizes

Color Quality

Every product should be designed in the CMYK color mode whenever possible. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). If the product is not saved in CMYK, will automatically convert the design from RGB (red, green, and blue; this is what you see on your monitor) to CMYK. For more information about setting up your document in CMYK, give your Local VIP Print Concierge a call.

When ordering on’s Pricing Tool, you will be asked to select ink options (inside the ink and cover ink for multi-page products). These options will appear as:

4/4 Full Color Both Sides
4/1 Full-Color Front / Black Back
4/0 Full-Color Front / Empty Back or
1/1 Black Front / Black Back

For example, a Postcard may have a Full-Color Front (4) with only Black (1) on the back. The appropriate ink selection for this postcard would be 4/1 Full-Color Front / Black Back.
Full Color vs. Black Ink vs. No Printing

Color Printing is also known as 4-color printing, full-color printing, process printing, and CMYK printing. Color involves the separation of all colors into 4 different color values (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black).
CMYK Explained

Print Ready - File Saving requires that you submit your art as a Print-Ready PDF. Click here to download and install our PDF Preset (for Adobe programs only). You will be downloading a .zip folder. Double click the file to unzip the folder.

When exporting from any program such as Indesign or Illustrator, use these settings to make sure your PDF files export correctly.


Adobe PDF Preset is set to Press Quality
Adobe PDF Preset

Compatibility is set to Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3)

Compress Text and Line Art is set to Off

- OR -

We also have a PDF Preset (.joboptions file) to make it easy to create a Print Ready PDF. Download the file, then double click. This will install a Preset into all Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, etc..) so you can choose it while saving your PDF. Click here to download.

PDF Preset

NOTE: Due to Adobe limitations, this preset will not convert all colors into CMYK. You must convert all colors to CMYK before saving your file.

Select your program for a step by step tutorial on how to load our preset and/or save as a PDF: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Canva, Publisher, and Word.

adobe photoshop PDF to printprinting cheap how to convert a Illustrator file to a print ready PDF printing cheaphow to convert a InDesign file to a print ready PDFprinting cheap how to convert a publisher file to a print ready PDF printing cheaphow to convert a Word file to a print ready PDF printing cheaphow to convert a Canva file to a print ready PDF

Note: Do not reduce the size of your PDFs. Big file sizes are OK. We need the highest resolution to ensure that your files get printed with the best quality.
reduced size pdf vs high quality pdf

Folds, Creases, Die Cutting provides free downloadable templates for our products. To ensure you appropriately plan for folds, creases, and die-cutting, it is best that you utilize this resource.

Our folding products are professionally creased, making an even fold that doesn’t crack the ink at the edges.

Greeting Card Folds (Landscape & Portrait):
Greeting Card Folds

Brochure Folds:
Brochure Folds

Die-Cut Products: offers Tear-Off Cards and Tear-Off Door Hangers, which are a perforated die-cut. We also offer to die cut Presentation Folders and Envelopes. Click your product for free downloadable templates that include the fold lines and die-cut lines for reference during design.

For a step-by-step tutorial on Print-Ready File Creation, select from one of the following programs: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Canva, Publisher, and Word.

Have more questions? Contact your Local Print Concierge.

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