GOT an A4 300dpi PDF/X, in CMYK, with bleed, to print on 100gsm uncoated silk? Then you’re good to go. Shoot it over and we’ll get to work.
If that reads like a foreign language, or if you would just like clarification on a couple of points, the following guidelines may help. Failing that, drop us a line or give us a call. We’d be delighted to help.
What file format should I use?
In an ideal world, PDF.
Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present and exchange documents independent of software, hardware, or operating system. In other words, what you see on your computer should match what we see when we open your file on ours.
Most creative software applications will enable you to generate a PDF directly from within the application, often via the Print function. The standard for printing is PDF/X; if your software offers multiple variants please select PDF/X-1a:2001. Please ensure that your file includes suitable bleed and crop marks, and adheres to our guidelines on image resolution (see below).
While a PDF is ideal, we are also happy to accept files created in Illustrator and Photoshop. If you wish to send these in .ai or .eps format please ensure that all fonts are outlined and images either embedded or sent separately. We are big fans of InDesign, too, and can work with your .indd file if you package it with fonts, graphics and colours. The same goes for any Quarkies out there.
If you have any other questions regarding formatting your artwork, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to talk to you.
Please ensure that your artwork uses industry-standard CMYK colours rather than RGB.
Most scanners and digital cameras create images using red, green and blue (RGB), and these are also the colours that your screen uses. With the exception of Pantone, or ‘spot’, colours, which use a premixed ink, we print using CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).
Except where spot colours are used, we must convert all RGB images and graphics to CMYK before printing, and some change – usually ‘dulling’ – can occur. You will have more control over the appearance of your artwork if you convert all images from RGB to CMYK yourself.
If your images are black and white they should be supplied in greyscale, as this removes all colour information and ensures that your image is only printed using black.
It is also worth noting that as most computer monitors are backlit, images may appear brighter on your screen than they will actually print. It may be worth adjusting the brightness of your image to compensate. There’s a small extra cost involved, but if you would like to see in advance how your pictures will print you might like to request a hardcopy proof.
If you wish to use any Pantone colours please talk to us in advance of placing your order.
We print at 300dpi (dots per inch). It is important that you convert all images and graphics to this resolution prior to preparing your artwork, and that you generate your file for print also at 300dpi.
Digital photos print at a far higher resolution than they display on most monitors. To check whether a photo is useable for print, open it in Photoshop and select ‘Image Size’. Set the resolution to 300 pixels per inch and switch off ‘Resample Image’. The dimensions then shown are the size that that image can be reproduced on the page without loss of quality.
Finally, please try to avoid using .gif or .png formats, which use file compression. Quality can be lost. Raw .tif or .psd (Photoshop) files are fine if at the correct resolution, but tend to be quite large in file size. Stick to .jpg if possible, and make sure you save at maximum quality.
Most print-ready PDFs may be safely supplied as a standalone file.
However, if your artwork is in the form of an Illustrator, Photoshop file or editable PDF, or if you are submitting an original InDesign or Quark file, for example, please supply us with a copy of the fonts used.
We have a extensive font library, but there are so many versions of the more commonly used fonts that the text may flow differently unless we can be assured that we are using the same version that you have used. This is especially true where text runs over multiple pages.
Alternatively, software such as InDesign and Illustrator has options to select a font and convert it to outlines – standard vector graphics or shapes. Use this if you are having trouble supplying the fonts needed. But please double-check that the font looks as you intend before saving, as some fonts do not convert correctly and may change slightly with this process.
If you use images or background graphics that extend to the edge of the paper, you will need to add bleed to your artwork.
‘Bleed’ is an additional overlapping margin that enables the printed page to be safely cut to size without leaving an unprinted edge. We recommend that you add 3mm bleed all round: an A5 document which normally measures 148mm by 210mm should therefore be set at 154mm by 216mm, with the extra 3mm to be trimmed off during finishing.
Be sure when designing a document with bleed to retain safe internal margins – we recommend that you keep all text at least 5mm away from the page edge.
We will never print without first receiving your approval to do so.
Before printing we will send you an electronic proof (JPEG or PDF) by email, so that you can have a last check that your artwork has been safely received and that no changes have occurred during our preparation to print. For a small extra charge we can also supply you with an unfinished printed proof. This typically will take an extra one or two working days to deliver.
If you are particularly concerned about accurate colour reproduction, as a third option we can provide a CMYK colour-correct proof on FOGRA-approved paper. Every such proof is individually scanned and calibrated to ensure that all colours are represented faithfully on the proof; when we go to press we then match to the proof, in compliance with ISO standard. Please contact us if you would like to know more about this option.
Choosing the page size and type of paper for your job is something that should be decided right at the start. We are always happy to field questions, but a few pointers might get you started.
Like most printers, we use the ‘A’ range of metric paper sizes. These are sized from A0 to A8, each one exactly half the area of the preceding larger size. Because of the geometric scaling of the paper sizes it makes economic good sense to select an ‘A’ size for your artwork, as this will maximize the amount of pages that can be fitted on each sheet that we feed through the press, and therefore minimize the amount of paper cut to waste. That said, we can also print unconventional sizes if you prefer something out of the ordinary.
As well as the size of page you also need to consider the type of paper you require. Our online shop specifies the type of paper we recommend for each standard piece of printwork, but please ask if you are interested in other options. Below are a few of the variables:
Coated paper, as the name suggests, has a coating typically of china clay, calcium and varnishes. Available in gloss, silk (satin) or matte finish, it is usually used for projects that require a smooth surface. Most leaflets and glossy magazines are printed on coated paper.
Uncoated paper will be familiar to anyone who uses a laser printer or photocopier. It’s also used for most business stationery, and some brochures and catalogues. Available in bond (common), wove (premium) or laid (textured).
Your choice of coated or uncoated paper can make a significant difference to the appearance of your work: ink will sit up on a coated stock but tends to soak into an uncoated paper, making colours seem rather more flat. If you are worried about how your colours will reproduce please ask us for a paper-correct proof.
Finally, if the feel of your document is as important to you as its look, you may need to consider what paper weight to use. Paper density is measured in grammes per square metre, commonly written as gsm. Office paper is typically 80gsm, with higher weights generally resulting in thicker paper. Paper used for products such as invitations or business cards typically is 250–350gsm, but heavier weights are available. As always, we’d be delighted to help you choose what is best suited for your work.
If your file or package of files is 10MB or less, zip or archive it to protect it against compression and feel free to email it. If you mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll jump on it straightaway and get to work. We also have a WeTransfer account, which can accommodate files of any size. It’s very easy to use and very quick. Click here to go to our We Transfer account.