Standard FAQ

We recommend saving as a .PDF. We would prefer you to send .PDF and .eps files with embedded or outlined fonts. These files are much easier to handle and will likely speed up your turnaround. You may send .eps, .tiff, .PDF, .jpg, .psd, .ai, and .ind.

File formats like GIF or JPEG compress the picture's color and pixel resolution and this can cause color shifts and blurring. JPEG and GIF are the most commonly used image types on web pages and are not adequate for printing.

If you send us Microsoft Office files (word, excel, PowerPoint, publisher) we will convert it to .PDF and have you proof it. There will be a charge for it.

It is best to print a postscript file to the disk and then use Adobe Acrobat Distiller to convert the postscript file to a PDF file. Be sure to use press, pre-press or High Resolution quality settings to ensure images will be Hi-Res. Always embed your fonts. Some programs can generate PDF files without having to print a file to disk and then use Adobe Acrobat Distiller. No matter which method you use to create the PDF file there are some basic rules to follow to create PDF files that will produce the highest quality output.

  1. Always embed all fonts.
  2. Use image files that are bitmap, grayscale, or CMYK, using RGB can result in color shifts.
  3. In Photoshop, Tiffs must be flattened, in CMYK mode with no LZW compression. Do not save Photoshop files with halftone function or transfer function.
  4. In Illustrator EPS, fonts must be outlined. Images must be embedded and in CMYK mode. Save the file as Illustrator EPS with Postscript Level 3 Flatten all transparencies. Select all objects and select flatten transparency from the menu.
PDF proofs

A PDF proof is what we call a soft proof because it is only viewed on your computer monitor. Because of variances in monitors, PDF proofs are not accurate to color. They are accurate to composition and trim size. If color is critical we strongly recommend a hard copy proof.

Low resolution orders may be printed as is or will be placed on hold until we receive new files, slowing your turnaround. Minimum resolution is 200 dots per inch (dpi) at actual size. Optimum resolution is 300 dpi, and not more than 400 dpi. We print 4-color process (CMYK) and as such we require files that are CMYK. Converting color from any other color space (RGB, LAB, etc.) will result in a color shift/variation. Convert all images to CMYK before submitting files for printing. When using a black background be sure to make it a rich black. The CMYK values for this are: Cyan: 60%, Magenta: 40%, Yellow 40%, and Black 100%.

If you are enlarging the image files when you place them in your document then the resolution requirements change based on the size the document is placed at. Files pulled from web pages are not appropriate for use in files that are intended for printing.

If you send us an RGB file, there is a chance that a color shift may occur and you may not be satisfied with your job. You should always save your artwork in CMYK mode.

  • In Adobe Photoshop open the file go to image mode cmyk
  • In Adobe Illustrator select all filters color convert to cmyk
RGB refers to the additive color space, Red, Green and Blue, this color space is used primarily in monitors, television screens, digital cameras, scanners etc. When all three of these colors are combined they produce white. CMYK refers to subtractive color space used in process printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. These are the inks used in the 4-color process printing commonly referred to as full color printing. When these four colors are combined they produce black. Because of these fundamental differences in the two processes it is impossible to exactly match colors from one color space to the next.

Bleed is when an image prints off the edge of the paper. In order for us to have the image trim off the edge of the paper we must start with an image that is slightly larger than the finished trim size. The easiest way to make sure we have enough of the image is to make the picture overlay the document by 1/8 in. i.e. 0.125 in. wherever it is going to bleed. For example, if your page is 8.5 in. x 11 in. the bleed size is 8.75 in. x 11.25 in. When you make your PDF file it needs to have the bleed included or it will not work. Bleed must extend further then the cut line. Using our Copy2Copy templates can help visualize this. Please keep all your text and anything you do not want cut at least .125 in. away from the cut line. When sending an .eps or .PDF, make sure you include crop marks so we can cut the job correctly.

Borders on jobs

If the border is too close to the cut line, it may be cut off-center slightly. We cut through many sheets at a time, so watch your borders to avoid an unwanted mistake.

Overprint and how it can ruin your file

Primarily used to intentionally overlap inks for a number of reasons, overprint can cause unexpected results. We suggest that you turn all overprint objects off before submitting your files. Unexpected results may occur if you have accidentally set certain things to overprint.

Be careful about using photographs for backgrounds. If you put text (any color) on top, it can be very hard to read. So the secret is to lighten the photograph a lot more than you may think is necessary. Use a photo editing program like PhotoShop, Paint Shop Pro or Adobe PhotoDeluxe. To screen back the photo, a good rule of thumb is to output the photo at no more than 30% of its original density.

Avoiding transparency issues:

Any transparency issue can be resolved before saving your file. To prevent this, never use shadows, glows, or any other transparency on top of a pantone color. Always convert your pantone color to CMYK.

Compression softwares are programs that can significantly reduce the size of the files to be uploaded. We highly recommend that all jobs submitted to us be compressed using either StuffIt for the Mac or Winzip or PKZip for the PC. The best way to compress the files is to first gather all the necessary components of the job into a folder. Make sure you have all the desktop publishing pages all the high-resolution pictures (EPS, Tiff or JPEG) and any special fonts. Place all of these components into a file folder and then use the compression software to compress the entire folder. This will keep everything together and make it so you only have to upload 1 file. In the event that the compressed file is larger than 25 megabytes take some of the component (perhaps an exceptional large picture or two and make another folder, compress it and upload 2 files instead of one large file.

Publisher 2000 files - Pack and Go compression:

Please do not use the Publisher 2000 Pack and Go feature. Please gather all the associated files (pictures, fonts and any other graphic used in the job) into a single folder and compress it into a Zipped file. Compressing complete job folders with Winzip or PK Zip (or Stuffit on the Mac) is recommended for all jobs. This will greatly reduce the upload time.

An Aqueous coating is a fast-drying, water-based, protective coating that is applied in-line on press to achieve a variety of finishes at a more economical price.

Protect your image! Aqueous coatings provide excellent rub and scuff resistance. They give protection that far exceeds standard varnishes. Your product will be resistant to smudges, fingerprints and scratches during shipment through to end use. They are available in gloss and matte finishes.

Aqueous coatings are applied to your printed sheet immediately following the inks. Directly after the coating is applied, the sheets are sent through a heated air system that quickly dries the coating. The printed sheets can move on to the finishing department within minutes, as opposed to conventional varnishes which may need hours or even days to dry.

Uv inks and coatings are desirable because they essentially do not contain solvent that must evaporate during the curing phase. The cure takes place under a strong UV (ultra violet) light source in a dryer (or reactor). Since UV contains little or no solvent, there is a lot of interest in using it because of the lack of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs can be potentially hazardous to breathe and dispose, thus the reduction is appealing to the environment.

Setting up a Spot UV job:

When creating a Spot UV job, you must include a Spot UV template file along with the CMYK color printing file. The Spot UV template file is used to show where the UV will be placed. Use black to indicate where you would like the UV and white where you do not want UV.

Difference between 4-color process vs. PMS spot colors:

Process color printing uses the color model that describes each color in terms of the quantity of each secondary color (cyan, magenta, yellow), and key (black) to produce virtually any color. PMS color matching uses a Pantone color guide to pick an exact color specified. We have press capabilities that can print up to 8 colors, which gives you the opportunity to use 4 color process with additional spot colors and/or finishes to get a truly desirable finish.

Imposition and backup refer to how the front of a printed piece is oriented front to back. We will always post the front and the back in the orientation that they will print in relation to each other. So, if page 2 appears upside down, that is how it will be printed on the back of page 1. If you are not sure if we have oriented the piece correctly print out a copy of your online proof, attach the two sides together by lining up the register marks on the proofs and attach the two sides together. You now have a working dummy that you can manipulate to make sure it is imposed correctly. This is especially important on jobs that fold.

Should I send a proof or sample file?

When sending artwork, do not send extra files, like proofs or samples, because they might get printed. Only send the file you need printed. Do not send these kinds of files! donotprint.pdf, sampleonly.jpg, lowres.png, proof.bmp. We are not responsible for these kinds of files being printed. Unless requested by one of our employees, do not send files that you do not want printed.

It is very important to make sure that the camera is set to the highest quality setting possible. Remember that images should be at 300 dpi in their final size in the layout!

More often than not, we notice that images that come from digital cameras print darker than expected on the printing. Check to see if you have a brightness option in your image-editing program to lighten the entire piece. If you have the opportunity to change the color space from RGB (red, green, and blue) to the printing press colors of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), then do so! It is always better to have you change the color space if you can, than for us to do it. Remember, not all colors that you can see that are created by elements of light (RGB) can be created by the elements of ink (CMYK) on press. If you do not have this capability on your camera, please use software such as Photoshop to change it. Finally, we recommend that you apply a little sharpening to the image. This will make the image a little crisper and will print better on press.

Foil stamping is a process where a shiny metallic leaf is physically stamped with heat and pressure onto the substrate. Benefits are a highly reflective finish that demands attention.

When High Gloss Metallic Printing is preferred, foil stamping is the answer. The most popular foils include gold, silver, and copper.

Embossing and Debossing is the process of leaving a relief imprint on substrate. It is applied in the same process as foil stamping, in which a metal die is pressed to leave an impression.

When looking for subtle image qualities, embossing or debossing create a textured surface. Embossing and debossing give an upscale appearance to almost any logo or type. Use it with silk-screening or foil stamping for an even more elegant look.

Embossing/Debossing is used when printing turned edge loose-leaf binders, custom covers, index tabs, presentation folders, and media packaging applications.

Traditional die cut windows can be made to any size. Custom Shapes can also be used to create the distinctive image your design team requires to maximize the impact of your graphic communications. Die cutting is used when printing poly binders and boxes, custom covers, index tabs, presentation folders, and media packaging applications.

Create information windows or through custom shapes. Die-cut solutions break through the clutter and make your materials more distinctive.

This method of printing works on most substrates and can be used to print PMS colors. Multiple colors can be applied as well as half tones and bleeds. Silk-screening is used when printing custom combs, poly, turned edge and vinyl loose-leaf binders, and cover applications.

With the capability to print up to six vibrant colors on almost any material, silk-screening is a great way to get your brand noticed.