A frequent source of frustration for our design and pre-press team here are the shop is incorrect file preparation.
Often we find ourselves working with a file submitted for a job that won’t work with our printers. It gets worse if there are no bleeds on the file, or if it’s not formatted in CMYK. Sometimes it’s not even sent as a PDF!
Such things are aggravating both for us and our customers, who both just want to get the job done on time. These steps for preparing files for your printer will minimize frustration for all parties involved.
Hundreds of man-hours have been wasted (both for us and our customers) due to a file being submitted by a customer in Word or Publisher, when if should have been submitted as a PDF. Word and Publisher will not save fonts into the documents, so if you have any fun and interesting fonts it most likely won’t get to us.
The solution then is to submit files as PDFs. We ask our customers to design their files in a program such as Photoshop or InDesign, convert their files to PDF, and then submit those files to us. If you don’t have access to these Adobe programs just save your files as PDFs from whatever program you are using.
Another problem we frequently face here at the shop is a lack of bleeds on files. Bleeds are the extra space added to the edge of a file that will be cut off during production. There needs to be a buffer zone so no valuable information is cut off. For example, a letter size sheet (8.5x11) would need bleeds of 8.625x11.125. See the illustration below:
Bleeds are required on all documents that do not have all-white borders. Very rarely is there a job which does not require bleeds. Therefore, we kindly ask our customers to always include bleeds when designing their products.
The minimum bleeds space is .125 inches for paper products, but 0.5 inches for banners and signs.
Another important step that must be remembered (but is often forgotten) is formatting the file in CMYK. Kristin wrote a post on CMYK a few weeks back, so in case you want to get up-to-speed on that, please check that out. In the meantime, please remember that if your file has images or color in it, and it’s not in CMYK, we will not be able to print it correctly.
We hope that this brief guide will be of use to you. As a quick review remember to design your file in the correct program, submit it as a PDF, include bleeds on the file, and to make sure the file is formatted in CMYK. A good designer should be able to do all of these things for you. If you need assistance with any of your projects, we are more than happy to help for a setup fee.
And as always, be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions!
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.