Setting up a file for printing

If files aren’t set up correctly a lot of printers will just send them back and ask for them in the correct format. This means “correct” for the printer, not all printers want the same format. Make sure you find out the format that your printer wants before you send them the file. This will save you time in the long run. The last thing you want is to go back and work on a project you already thought was done.

The most important thing is that you take your time and double check that everything is saved & packaged correctly.

Other things to check are:

Image Resolution:

Making sure your files or images are in the correct Image Resolution is very important, otherwise you may end up with pixelated or grainy images. A rule for print is an image resolution of 300 DPI.


Bleed Area:

The bleed area is what bleeds off the page. Your files should be set up slightly larger then the finished size with your images/background running off the page. When its cut to its finished size it won’t get a white border around your finished product.

Crop Marks:

Also known as Trim marks. These are different for all printers, some prefer to have crop marks while others don’t. A crop mark is a mark on the outside of your document that shows the printer where to cut to make the final size. The bleed goes slightly beyond these marks.


You spend hours designing your work and finding just the right font for your project, then package it wrong and it can be lost. In Illustrator converting your type into vector outlines will stop this problem from happening. With Photoshop send it as a flatten tiff file and you will be fine. If you don’t use either software, make sure you include your font file when you send it to the printers.


Make sure that you give your printer detailed instructions if your print job is something outside of the ordinary. Instead of a whole bunch of emails that can be read wrong, and take a lot of time or hassle. Drop in for a visit or phone your printer and talk them through exactly what you want so there can be no miscommunication.

Crop-MarksAt Smith Print we take all files, but to be set up correctly (for us) we prefer PDF’s with a bleed area of 3mm and crop marks.

Types of files:

PDF- (Portable Document Format) is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. PDF is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system

TIFF- (Tagged Image File Format) is a high resolution loss-less file format that is ideal for saving images for print.

EPS- Encapsulated PostScript is a DSC-conforming PostScript document with additional restrictions intended to make EPS files usable as a graphics file format. In other words, EPS files are more-or-less self-contained, reasonably predictable PostScript documents that describe an image or drawing, that can be placed within another PostScript document.