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File Preparation Tips

Tips and Checklist for file preparation to Print
 
Questions & Answers

  1. Does my artwork have 0.25" bleeds?
  2. Do I need to use CMYK color mode?
  3. Does US Printing accept any file format?
  4. Can you help me prepare my files?
  5. Why is resolution important?
  6. What resolution is needed for my job?
  7. What if my file is missing fonts?
  8. How do I convert text to outlines?
  9. Does my artwork have borders?
  10. What if my file is missing images?
  11. What if my artwork contains gradients?

| Q |

Does my artwork have 0.25" bleeds?
| A |

US Printing requires a 0.25" bleed around the perimeter of your artwork to ensure accurate cutting (e.g., artwork for a 4"x6" postcard should extend to 4.25" x 6.25"). If your image has a white border on all four sides, bleeds are recommended but not required. If your image is not white on all four sides, you must include bleeds in print-ready files. Before submitting your artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

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| Q |

Do I need to use CMYK color mode?
| A |

Yes. If your files are submitted using any other color standard, such as RGB or Pantone, they will be converted to CMYK during preflighting. Conversion from one color standard to another may cause colors to shift. Before submitting your digital artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

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| Q |

Does US Printing accept any file format?
| A |

No. US Printing accepts print-ready files in any of the following formats: .eps, .jpg, .pdf, .ps, .psd, .tif.

In other words, US Printing accepts print-ready files saved from the following design software programs: Adobe Photoshop® CS, Adobe Illustrator® CS, Adobe InDesign® CS, Adobe PageMaker, Macromedia Freehand®, QuarkXpress®.

We can also print raster images (.tiff and .jpegs) independent of the application program used to create such designs if they are submitted at high-quality, uncompressed 300 dpi resolution, 8 bit, CMYK color mode. We can not guarantee files created in MS-Word or MS-Publisher will produce high-quality images and text. Please refer to your user manual or software vendor for information on how to output a print-ready raster image that meets US Printing specifications.

Please note that if you have an artwork file in any other format (e.g., word document), we encourage you to create a PDF file that can be uploaded to US Printing.

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| Q |

Can you help me prepare my files?
| A |

US Printing provides detailed file preparation guidelines and tips for popular software programs in our online "Help Center", which can be found at www.US Printing.com/helpcenter.asp.

If additional file preparation support is needed, you may consider engaging the US Printing Design Group to prepare your files quickly and cost effectively.

If you are interested in creating your own design and have limited design expertise, we encourage you to review our stock product designs-available for business cards, greeting cards, postcards, and vinyl banners.

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| Q |

Why is resolution important?
| A |

Resolution also known as DPI (Dots 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.

For an image to print properly, the image must be at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) at the final output size. If your file is not 300 dpi, you can not simply increase the dpi from a low resolution to a higher one by increasing the DPI in your imaging program.

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| Q |

What resolution is needed for my job?
| A |

For most printing jobs, 300 dots per inch (DPI) is the minimum resolution to guarantee acceptable printing results. For larger products such as large format posters and banners, we recommend sharper resolution which can range from 300 to 1200 dpi, depending on the intended use of the printed piece.

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| Q |

What if my file is missing fonts?
| A |

It is important that you supply all fonts used in your layout. If you do not supply fonts in your artwork file, we will request that you resubmit your files with fonts included.

If you have vector artwork and your file is missing fonts, you can open your file in Illustrator, select "Create Outlines", save your fonts, re-save your artwork file, and then upload it.

If you have artwork that is rasterized, you can open your file in Photoshop and select "Flatten the Layers", re-save your artwork file, and then upload it.

Please do not submit your fonts seperately from your file because it is critical that we receive your print-ready file with fonts included to avoid any printing issues.

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| Q |

How do I convert text to outlines?
| A |

All text within your files must be converted to outlines with the outline set to zero to eliminate the need for fonts. Before submitting your artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

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| Q |

Does my artwork have borders?
| A |

If your artwork contains borders, you must make sure all borders are 1/4 (0.25) of an inch wide on each side of your artwork. In addition, you need to add a 1/8 (0.125) of an inch bleed on each side of your artwork. This approach will ensure proper cutting and help the finished product maintain a symetrical appearance. If your border is not at least 1/4 (0.25) of an inch wide on each side, you risk creating a border that looks uneven.

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| Q |

What if my file is missing images?
| A |

If your file is missing the images you desire, you should re-save your file properly so that the images will not drop out during printing.

We do not normally accept images by themselves. The only exception is if you engage one of our graphic designers to help you with your project.

Otherwise, you must place all images in your artwork and make sure to save your files properly. Please refer to your software program manual for more information on how to save your files properly. For example, if you are using a vector-based software program such as illustrator you must make sure you are using tif file images to place, then when saving to an eps or pdf you must embed the images. If you are using Photoshop, you should flatten all layers before saving to keep all images and text in place.

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| Q |

What if my artwork contains gradients?
| A |

Gradients are commonly used in printing and in most instances produce good results. Gradients can be represented in a file as a mathematical equation (Vector) or rendered by the application into a series of pixels (Raster). Before submitting your artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

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