Digital File Prep Tips

Posted by ashley mcneill on

Here are some tips on how to prepare digital files for print:


1. Use the Right File Format: The file format you choose for your design can have a significant impact on the quality of the final print. In general, you should use a vector format such as a PDF or Adobe Illustrator AI. If you must use a bitmap format, you should use a high-resolution file format such as TIFF.


2. Check the Resolution of Bitmap Files: The resolution of your file is another critical aspect to consider. For print, a bitmap TIFF should have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Anything less than that will result in a pixelated or blurry image.


3. Use CMYK Colors: The colors used in your digital files should be in the CMYK color space. This uses four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to create a range of colors. Using RGB (red, green, blue) colors is intended for accurate colors on screens only, and if your file is provided in this format can lead to color shifts and inaccurate prints. For White Toner prints, make sure only Black (K) is used as a color at 100%. No other color should be present in the CMYK gamut for White Toner prints.


4. Check Bleed and Margins: Bleed is the area outside the design that gets trimmed off after printing. If you have any color or lines that reach the very edge of your design, it is essential to include a bleed to ensure that no white borders are around the final product. Add Crop Marks to indicate where the bleed ends and where the design should be trimmed. Similarly, margins are the space between the edge of the design and the edge of the paper. Make sure to leave enough space for margins to avoid text or images getting cut off.


5. Outline or Embed Fonts: If you’re using a custom font in your design, you will need to outline the text (in Adobe Illustrator, select the text, then go to the, “Type,” menu and select, “Create Outlines,” or use the keyboard shortcut of, “Shift + Command / Control + O”). This converts the live text to shapes. If you cannot outline the text, you will need to embed the fonts in the digital file to ensure the font is available when the file is printed and prevents any potential font substitution issues. 


6. Proofread: Before sending us your files, make sure to thoroughly proofread your designs. Double-check for typos, grammatical errors, and any design elements that may be out of place.


7. Test Print: Finally, it’s always a good idea to print a test copy of your design to ensure that everything looks as intended. This can help you catch any last-minute issues and make any necessary adjustments before printing the final copies.


Any questions? Email and Trent can help.

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