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A Short Guide to Preparing Files for Print

Posted 21st March 2018

A Short Guide to Preparing Files for Print

When creating a brochure, leaflet or magazine you will want to ensure that the printed version looks as good as the on-screen version. Taking the time to set up your documents correctly, right at the start, can save time and avoid problems later. Here are a few steps that will help you create print ready artwork.

Work in CMYK

In general, it’s much better to create your document in CMYK. If you’ve just started your project, check the settings of the program you’re working in to ensure you’re using the right colour settings.

  

In a program like Adobe InDesign it allows the document to contain both RGB and CMYK colours. You can check that your document is using the ideal colour settings for your country by going to ‘Colour Settings’ in the menu.

If your document contains RGB images you can see a CMYK preview of your document by ticking the ‘Proof Colours’ from the View menu tab in InDesign.

If you are importing RGB images and files in to your document, then these can be converted to CMYK when you export the document to PDF, for more deatils see:

How to convert RGB colours when creating a PDF.

Use the correct document size

It may seem obvious but your document will need to be the correct size for printing and trimming. If your program allows, add 3mm bleed to all four sides. Otherwise you will need to create a document that is 6mm wider and 6mm taller than the final trimmed size.

You will also need to add crop marks to indicate where the document is to be trimmed. If you export your document as a PDF then these can be added automatically by ticking these options in the PDF export settings.

For more details about adding bleed and crop marks see:

A quick guide to print bleeds

Checking image resolution

Ideally images should have resolution of at least 300ppi. This can be checked in Adobe InDesign by selecting the image in the Links panel and looking for the Effective PPI (pixels per inch) information.

 

How to supply files

Finished artwork can either be supplied as a PDF or as a ‘package’ or ‘collect for output’ that contains all of the files, fonts and images.

InDesign will show a summary of the files, fonts and colours used in the document. It will allow you to make a final check and see if there are any errors, such as missing images or fonts. It will also show if there are any RGB images or spot colours.

Even if supplying a PDF you should make the checks described above, before exporting.

Using one of Acrobat’s presets such as ‘High Quality’ will give you most of the settings you need to create a print ready PDF. You should add crop marks and bleed. If you have any RGB or spot colours that need converting this can be specified in the PDF output settings.

You should now be ready to send us your finished artwork or PDF.

If you would like more advice on the best settings to use when preparing artwork, then speak to your sales advisor. They can put you in touch with one of our production team.

For information about sending through files to Swallowtail Print see:  

A simple guide to uploading files