Tips for Preparing Files for a Professional Printer

printing bannerFrom small businesses to thriving Fortune 500 companies, just about every company has printing needs that they’ll need to communicate with a professional printer. The world of printing, however, can get especially confusing, and there exists a high possibility of miscommunication between the designer and the printer. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing a file for a professional printer to help prevent any hang-ups.

Understand How Your Software Works

It’s important to understand the difference between the file you’re working on and the file you are going to export if you want a print job to run smoothly. Adobe InDesign, for example, is meant for layout and thus makes use of file-linking. This means that when you place an image in your InDesign file, the image will not be located in your InDesign file but will instead be linked to where that file is located on your computer, and then InDesign will call up the image when exporting a file for print. Knowing this is crucial because it can help you troubleshoot missing images and prevent hang-ups that might occur when it’s time to print. It will also help you be more organized with your files.

Watch the Resolution

Whether you’re working in Photoshop, Illustrator, or a different program to create your print-ready files, you’ll need to know the proper resolution for printing. While web-ready files generally only need a resolution of 72 to 100 ppi (pixels per inch) to display crisply, many small files for print require a resolution of at least 200 to 300 ppi. But here is where it gets more complicated—we here at City Signs work with large signs and banners, and when working with print on such a large scale, a large viewing distance becomes a factor, as well. This means that the resolution for a banner does not need to be as high as that of, say, a magazine page viewed from within a hand’s reach. A resolution of 100 ppi is usually perfect for a banner when taking viewing distance into account.

Make Sure It’s CMYK

…and not RGB. RGB is a web=based color space, while CMYK is the color space that printed materials require. CMYK doesn’t have quite the range in colors that RGB does, but such is the nature of printing with ink.

Understand Margins, Bleed, and Slug

When having something printed, you’ll need to both keep the bulk of your content within your margins to give it breathing room and also include bleed—content outside of what will be the edges of your printed item—to make sure that your design won’t fall short of where the banner or ad is cut. A bleed of 0.125 inches is fine. Slug, on the other hand, is more optional, but it is generally for non-printing information like the name of the document and the date. These are all settings that you can adjust in your design software, and you’ll want to make sure when you’re in the export process that they will be included in the exported file.

Know What Kind of File Type Is Required

PDFs are probably the most commonly used files in professional printing, but EPS files are also very common for printing large ads and banners. Depending on which file type your printer requests, you will select than file type during the file export process.