FILE FORMATS - How to prepare your files properly

PDF (Portable Document File) - ensure the PDF is set to “Press Quality” when creating your PDF.

EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) - commonly a “vector” file format, however, be aware that it is possible to save a lo-res image as an EPS.

AI (Adobe Illustrator) - this is a raw Illustrator file and can only be opened with this software. It is more likely to be a true vector file. Best option for making changes.

The PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats are often used to display images on the Internet. These graphic formats are usually lo-res (72 DPI or “Dots Per Inch” See RESOLUTION below). For good quality prints, we recommend 300 DPI or higher.

For more info on Graphic File Formats click here.

RESOLUTION - Why 72 DPI isn't high enough

Why is it important to understand DPI & Resolution? Because if you are going to print something (particularly of quality), knowing a few basics will save you a lot of time and give you the best results. First, always make sure that each and every photo or image you include (both raster and vector) are in CMYK format and not RGB. While RBG offers a greater colour range and works well in designing for implementation online, it doesn’t cut it when going to press. Any images that you leave in RGB mode will have to be translated into CMYK by your prepress operator before going to print. This not only takes more time, but will leave you unsure as to how your colour will turn out once on press.

It’s important to begin with a good picture which means the highest resolution and image dimensions you can get. When it comes to source images, bigger is better, because you can go down in size but not up without losing quality.

DPI: Dots Per Inch. The number of dots or pixels in a single inch. The more dots the higher the quality of the picture (more sharpness and detail).

Resolution: More resolution means an image displays more detail (or is capable of displaying more detail). Higher DPI means higher resolution.

Print: 300 dpi is standard, sometimes 150 dpi is acceptable but never lower, and you may go higher for some situations.


Photo at 300 DPI

Photo at 72 DPI (Internet standard)
If you are sending images to use for print and we tell you the images are “too small” or "lo-res", then the resolution wasn’t high enough. The image might look great and huge on your computer but is actually really small when printed out. To add to the confusion, your monitor resolution will also determine how big the picture appears to you when viewing it on your computer.

Hopefully this has helped you get a little clearer on the differences between DPI, resolution and why if you have someone do something for you in print there will be different requirements than for the web. It’s also why that digital cameras with higher megapixel counts take better pictures than one with lower megapixel counts (lenses and other factors being equal), because it gives you more resolution to capture more detail.

Image files with higher resolution (more DPI) will also have a bigger file size because they contain more data. Don’t confuse “image size” with “file size.” Image size refers to the dimensions of the image while file size is how much space the image takes up on a hard drive (file sizes are in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes or gigabytes).

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DOTS PER INCH - What DPI actually means

Dots per inch (DPI) is the number of individual dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch (2.54 cm).

In printing, DPI refers to the output resolution of a printer or imagesetter. DPI refers to the physical dot density of an image when it is reproduced as a real physical entity, for example printed onto paper, or displayed on a monitor. A digitally stored image has no inherent physical dimensions, measured in inches or centimeters. Some digital file formats record a DPI value, or more commonly a PPI (pixels per inch) value, which is to be used when printing the image. This number lets the printer or software know the intended size of the image, or in the case of scanned images, the size of the original scanned object. For vector images, there is no equivalent of resampling an image when it is resized, and there is no PPI in the file because it is resolution independent (prints equally well at all sizes). However there is still a target printing size. For more information click here.

FONTS - Making sure your text stays the same

Don’t Bold or Italicize Fonts From the Style Menu

In any standard layout program, there’s a font bar where all of the options for choosing a font and it’s characteristics can be found. Included in this bar is usually a drop down menu for selecting your font name, along with other attributes, such as leading and kerning, font weight, and paragraph alignment. Some of these programs, like Word or Publisher, include drop down menus that allow you to apply characteristics like “bold” or “italic” even when the font you’ve chosen doesn’t include those particular styles.

For instance, if you are using Tahoma font, which happens to include only Tahoma Regular and Tahoma Bold, this extra drop down menu might allow to you to turn it into an italicized font. Even though this is tempting, don’t ever do this when creating a document intended for print. When we receive the file and send it to press, the font will be replaced by a substitute font and remove the italic attribute (or any other that you’ve applied arbitrarily). Therefore, always remember to choose a specific font that already has the attributes you’re looking to apply included in the actual font family if you want to maintain the appearance of the text.

Packaging

Typically, we will ask that you "package" a copy of all of the original font files contained in the document you’re printing along with all of your other linked files, so that in the event something goes wrong with one or more of your fonts, we’re able to install the fonts on our own system in hopes of correcting the problem.

Outlining

In addition, wherever possible we’ll ask that you do what’s referred to as “outlining” your fonts. Basically, this turns the characters of each font into shapes rather than actual type. It's almost like drawing a picture of words, instead of typed text with the Type tool. This way, when a file is opened, the software program isn’t trying to call up a font, because it’s only recognizing a shape, and the issue of missing fonts or replacing is completely avoided.

As a note, this should NOT be done using Photoshop. There are more detailed reasons why (mostly to do with the difference between rasters and vectors), but know that you should always send an accompanying PDF file so we can see what the final image should look like, and send the original layered file along with any fonts you used in creating it. This way, if we need to work with your layered file for any reason, we can.

However, bear in mind that more common software packages (like Microsoft Office applications) do not have the ability to "outline" fonts.

BLEEDS - No files were harmed during printing

1. Trim is where the product will be cut.
2. Bleed is a safe zone outside the trim area.
3. Margin is a safe zone inside the trim area.

If you’d like any/all of your image(s) to run completely to the edges of your final printed piece, you’ll have to include what’s referred to as bleed on all edges of your documents. The bleed area is simply excess image that won’t end up in your final piece, but will run on press and will later be trimmed off.

Often we face originals that have an image that goes to the edge, but not beyond the edge, and therefore does not actually "bleed". To avoid this problem, we prefer to be included in the design of your documents from the start, so that we can be sure you have enough excess image that will eventually be cut off. Typically, bleed area only needs to be somewhere between 1/8 to 1/4 inch or more. If we cannot control the creation of the bleed edge, then we may have to either enlarge the document so the image will bleed, or reduce the image so that the bleed is avoided entirely and a white border is on all sides.

Trim Marks

Trim marks are simply small lines placed outside of your image so that we know where to cut once everything is printed. Even if you don’t place these on your documents yourself, simply telling us the finished size of your piece(s) will help us to know where to cut.

APPROVALS - We're constantly seeking it

All the projects we work on require approval in writing before we begin. Now matter how small the change, our policy is to have our clients review our proofs repeatedly until there are no more changes to the project.

Spell check: Our policy is to double check all spelling with at least 2 people in-house reviewing the same project - but even then sometimes things get missed. That's why it is so important for you to read over your work carefully for all possible spelling errors, grammar errors, typos and ensuring the correct contact information. In some instances, using the spell check function (found in most software platforms) is counter-productive. An example of when NOT to use a spell check feature would be with a list of proper names and addresses. Unless the last name is Smith living on Main Street, spell check will flag ALL the first and last names, all the city names and the two parts of our postal codes each and every time. Clicking through such a list would be time-consuming.

It is critically important to include ALL pertinent information at once, instead of multiple calls/emails with fractions or portions of information. That method will jeopardize the integrity of your data and your project. Please make sure to review your proofs carefully!

VERSIONS - What we're up to

Print Graphics uses Adobe products almost exclusively. We are currently using Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC) software along with the full Microsoft Office 2010 suite. For more information, please visit the Adobe website.

Please Note: We no longer accept Corel files (.cdr) or Quark files (.qxp). Please convert all fonts to outlines and save as an .EPS before submitting.

QUOTES - We can give you a price before you begin

We would be happy to prepare a quote for your printing needs. All our quotes are free, and are valid for at least 30 days.

Typical information required for a more accurate quote would be:
Quantity
Size
Single sided / Double sided
Bleeds or no bleeds (See Bleeds above for more info)
and your Due Date.

Click here to contact us.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS - Printing is environmentally friendly!

Paper is recyclable because the wood fibers from recovered paper can be reprocessed up to seven times into new paper and paperboard products. By recycling paper, we’re reusing materials that would otherwise have been thrown away. Paper fits the criteria for successful recyclability because it begins its life as a natural product and because the systems and technology exist to recover, reprocess and remanufacture wastepaper for use in new products. It’s both environmentally and economically responsible.

See the Forest and the trees Have you heard someone suggest that by using less paper you can “save a tree”? The fact is, that when the demand for paper declines, tree farming also declines, taking all of the important ecological impacts like clean water and wildlife habitat right along with it. So if you decide to decrease your use of paper, don’t think you’re going to “save a tree.” The reality is that decreasing paper use may well cause a forest somewhere to be replaced by development.

The future of our forests depends on slowing the conversion of these precious resources and by managing them sustainably to ensure their economic, social and environmental benefits for generations to come. That means we’ve got to provide not only the financial incentive but also the education and tools for responsible forest management.

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