Print Basics – Part 2


Useful guide to setting up print – Part 2

Image Resolution

Making sure your files or images are in the correct Image Resolution, sometimes referred to as DPI or PPI, is critical to get non-pixelated images, great looking ads and just great quality in general. A rule for print is an image resolution of 300 DPI.

Bleed, Trim & Live Area

Bleed, Trim & Live area

If you haven’t designed for print, this might seem a bit foreign to you. The bleed area is what bleeds off the page when you have a coloured background or an image next to the edge of a page. You have a bleed area so if your artwork gets cut slightly wrong, it won’t have an ugly white border around the outside. The reason you could get the ugly white border is because the image or background colour go right to the edge, but there isn’t any bleed.


Another great way to save money and an angry client is to make sure you get the files in on time. It would be horrible to already have a spot in a newspaper or a magazine and miss the deadline. If it’s a one off job there might not be a deadline set by the printer because its printed when you package your files and send them over, but if not, then you’re working to someone else’s deadline, so make sure you get in early!

Package Your File

Package file in indesign

Packaging your files correctly is one of the easiest ways to make sure the printer gets exactly what they need. Packaging a file in In-Design is a breeze you just click the package button. What In-Design does is find your images and fonts, and put them into their respective folders. This way the printer has everything they need. **DO NOT** send just your In-Design file send everything in the Package Folder. Otherwise the printer will not have any of your images or your fonts and the file will give them errors when they open it. If you don’t have In-Design and are using another layout program make sure that you send the fonts the text is using and the images they are linking to. Also like the above, make sure that you know what file format your printer is working in. If you have CS4 and your printer is on CS3 you need to save them a compatible file so they can open it. Printers are not always up to date like some designers or agencies in the industry so just make sure you have everything packaged and saved correctly. If you made your poster in Photoshop save it as a 300 DPI Tiff and then Place it in In-Design. Most printers set documents up to print from In-Design or Quark. This gives them the ability to set printers marks, a Bleed or Trim and Live areas. I wanted to call special attention to fonts and colours because they are some problematic areas.



Spending hours on beautifully kerned typography and having an awesome layout because of it, can be crushed in a matter of seconds if you don’t send the fonts that are using. If you’ve converted your type to outlines in Illustrator or turned them into vector objects its not necessary. Usually this has to deal with body copy or headlines. If you are working in Photoshop your are safe. You can just save as a flattened tiff and be on your way.


I always include a PDF or a jpg in my packaged file so the printer knows what it’s supposed to look like and when they open the file if it doesn’t look like that, something’s wrong. Its an extra step that has saved some issues and headaches in the past. The printer may have a different version of your font, they may not have it installed at all or you may have packaged something incorrectly.


If your print job is out of the ordinary, make sure you give your printer detailed instructions. A rule of thumb is, if you’re using varnishes, spot colours or anything that is not typical you should call. If they are local give them a visit to talk it through with them. A small consultation can work wonders. Try not to do a barrage of emails as things can be lost in translation, taken out of context or read incorrectly.


Bleed – a term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. The bleed is the part on the side of your document that gives the printer that small amount of space to move around paper and design inconsistencies.

Trim – the final size of a product after its unnecessary parts have been cut off or removed.

Live Area – is the area where your art and type should be safely tucked into so they are not trimmed or cut-off.

PDF X1A – Common file type for printing. The purpose of PDF/X is to facilitate graphics exchange, and it therefore has a series of printing related requirements, which do not apply to standard PDF files. For example, in PDF/X-1a all fonts need to be embedded and all images need to be CMYK or spot colors.

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.

DPI – Dots per inch (DPI) is a measure of spatial printing or video dot density, in particular the number of individual dots that can be placed within the span of one linear inch (2.54 cm). The DPI value tends to correlate with image resolution, but is related only indirectly.

PPI – Pixels per inch or pixel density is a measurement of the resolution of devices in various contexts; typically computer displays, image scanners or digital camera image sensors.

Image Resolution – describes the detail an image holds. The term applies equally to digital images, film images, and other types of images. Higher resolution means more image detail.

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.

Process Color – referred to as process color or four color, is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in most color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key black.

PANTONE Color – The PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM is the definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colors

Read Part 1 of the Article by clicking here

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