We have prepared the following guide to assist you with your electronic file preparation and submission. If you have a specific problem that is not covered in this guide, or have other questions, please feel free to contact us. Improperly prepared files can cause delays in production.

Checklist  Summary

►Ink bleeds over the trim line.

► Safety margins are set.

►Art is in CMYK color mode.

►300 dpi minimum resolution.

►Vector files (pdf,ai,eps) vs. Raster files (jpeg,png,tif) are preferred (see image below)

►Artwork matches the specified dimensions.

►All images are linked, fonts are outlined, embedded or included with submission.

►Transparencies are flattened.

►Borders are recommended to be .25" or 1/4 inch minimum in order to look symmetrical.

►PDF format preferred above all other file formats.


Add .125" or 1/8th inch Bleed on all sides. Ink going to the edge of the trim line needs to go past the trim box by this amount, this is called the bleed box. The bleed is printing that goes beyond the edge of where the sheet will be trimmed. The bleed is the part on the side of a document that gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper, and design inconsistencies.  

Safety Margin for Text/Graphics

Keep text and important graphics at least .125" or 1/8th inch inside the trim box.  Paper may shift slightly upon cutting and this distance ensures important items are kept from getting trimmed during the production process.  


Digital proof previews are not a safe and sure measuring tool for color accuracy. Colors on the file might be effected by monitor calibration, screen resolution and lighting, just to name a few. Many Pantone colors show a marked color shift when converted to four color process.  

Always submit artwork in CMYK mode.  CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.  All our printing ink processes use this 4 color ink output mode and any other submissions will be automatically converted to CMYK mode which may cause the color results to not end up as expected. To achieve the desired color on press, digital files must reflect accurate color models and percentage. It is highly recommended to ensure you are using CMYK mode upon creation of artwork for color accuracy and a closer expected color result and better quality output.

 A printing press applies the four CMYK ink colors in successive layers. By overlapping these four ink colors in various concentrations, a huge number of other colors can be created. As a result, the combined visual effects of these four CMYK colors produce what we commonly know as Full Color Printing.

Other names for the CMYK printing method include Four Color Printing, Four Color Process, 4CP, or simply Process Printing. Hence, all of the additional colors that can be created from the four CMYK colors are referred to as Process colors. The CMYK Process is used for printed matter that contains photographs and other designs of varying colors.

Image Resolution

Resolution should be a minimum of 300 dpi.  Resolution, also known as DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch), can be described as the number of dots that fit horizontally and vertically into a one-inch space. Generally, the more dots per inch, the more detail captured and the sharper the resulting image.

DO NOT ENLARGE a 72 dpi file to a 300 dpi file!

A common misconception is that you can convert a file from 72 dpi to 300 dpi. This is both true and false. Yes it is possible but the output actually makes the image fuzzy and unclear and actually not high resolution.  This is called interpolation.  The software makes up or fills in pixels to the closest pixel and makes the image uncrisp and clear in appearance and still causes the image to look low resolution although the art reads at 300dpi.  (See example images below)


File Format - Raster Vs. Vector


Submit artwork at the size it is ordered.  When we do any edit or correction to scale artwork to the correct size changes may occur.  IF this is still a correction you would like, please use the hire a designer feature and we can make any corrections necessary if the file allows for changes.

Fonts/Linked Images/Transparencies

Fonts, Links, and Transparencies and other effects used in vector format softwares (Illustrator and InDesign) must be flattened or linked and the fonts outlined. Not flattening transparencies, not having images linked or not outlining fonts may result in some text or graphics dropping out from your artwork.  This is why we always require a proof.  The less we have to convert or change the less likely these possible changes can take place.  


The cutting process for printed materials has a mechanical tolerance of about .0625 or 1/16 of an inch. When using a border in your artwork, it is essential that your design use at least .25 or 1/4 of an inch of white space from your border to the cut line to maintain a symmetric appearance otherwise the finished cut may appear unbalanced.


The terms portrait and landscape refer to whether the document is oriented vertically or horizontally. A page with landscape orientation is wider than it is tall.  When submitting artwork with mixed orientations alway submit each side with the head at the top of the page this will be how the artwork will print.  

Folded Product Submissions (ex: Landscape Greeting Cards or Folded Business Cards) - The inside page should be placed with the head at the bottom of the page (See image below). Since it is folded, when opened at the full size, the head will then appear at the top of the page.

Other Art Submission Info..

Catalog Submissions

Submit artwork with the following specifications: 

  • PDF format
  • Single pages NOT printer spreads
  • Sequential page order (first page to last page)
  • CMYK mode and all text in K (Black Ink only)
  • Follow all other guide lines as stated above

NCR/Envelope Submissions

Submit artwork with the following specifications:

  • Keep the safety margin at a 1/4" due to machine printing requirements
  • Full ink coverage is not possible due to the nature of the paper material

Akuafoil, Foil and Spot UV Submissions

For an Akuafoil job, you must include an Akuafoil mask file along with your CMYK file. The mask file indicates where the Akuafoil will be applied. The file setup is the same as Spot UV. Use 100% K where Akuafoil needs to be applied and white where the Akuafoil is not applied.

As shown above, the file on the left is the normal CMYK print file. If you want the logo to be Akuafoil, then your Akuafoil mask file should look like the file on the right. The white indicates no Akuafoil and black 100% K indicates where the Akuafoil will be applied. When uploading, please remember to upload separate files.

  1. Providing a PDF of your artwork solves the headaches…
  • The fonts and images are embedded into the document (no need to gather them up to provide to the printer)
  • PDF's display and print the same on all computers (PDF is an abbreviation for Portable Document Format
  • PDF's are compressed, so the file size is much smaller than their native art files. The quality of your printing, however, will not be compromised as long as the PDF file is saved properly. 
  • As long as you are not using a raster-art design program, all type and other vector art will remain crisp and pixel-free. In contrast, if you save to JPG or other raster file formats, all type and vector arrt will have pixels in it.
  • If we need to make minor edits to your art file before printing, a PDF file can be opened in Adobe Illustrator to make necessary adjustments. 

Quality - most programs will give you several options as to the quality of the file. When making a PDF for a printing company it is very important that you choose “Press Quality” in the options Menu. A Press Quality PDF will output at 300dpi for commercial printing. Many people mistakenly choose “high quality print,” which is inferior to press quality, resulting in lower quality (150 dpi) images in your PDF file. (high-quality print is for your desktop printer)