Step 1: Software
Layout Programs: Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress
Image Program: Adobe Photoshop
Illustration/Vector Art Programs: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Freehand
Not Recommended: Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint (for layout or images). These programs are not suitable for print document creation.
Step 2: Document Set-Up
Size: Set up pages as the final trim size. (No need to use oversized pages or manually placed trim marks, your design program will include them.)
Page Order: Pages should be in the same order as they appear in the final piece. The front cover should be page 1, the back cover should be the last page.
Imposition: A single page high resolution PDF is perfect. Printing multiple pages on a single printing sheet is called imposition and Printco will automatically impose pages as required.
Bleed: All items that touch the page edge need to extend beyond the edge by at least 1/8", though 1/4" is preferred. This ensures that upon final trimming (which cannot be exact on all sheets), the object that extends to the edge of the page is not left with a white edge of the paper.
Step 3: Colors
Colors: Use only the CMYK or Pantone Coated or Uncoated color models for selecting swatches. Any other available models are not print industry standards and unless they are converted to process, color match cannot be guaranteed. Remember, spot colors that are converted to process may not look exactly the same when printed. Refer to the Pantone Color Bridge swatch book for accurate color conversion.
Swatches: Delete all unused colors or multiple versions of the same color from your application's color list to eliminate confusion and unwanted output. Note: colors used in EPS files placed in a layout program must be named exactly as in the layout program.
Registration: This color is used for crop and registration marks, but should never be used when designing. Instead, use black or rich black.
Rich Black: Printing areas of deeper, richer black is best accomplished with a mix of colors to create a rich black. We recommend C=30%, M=30%, Y=0%, K=100%. This should not be used for type as it may cause misregistration.
Step 4: Images
Formats: Save images and graphics as .EPS or .PSD files (a .tiff is also acceptable). Avoid .jpgs, they are compressed files and could affect final quality.
Clipping Paths: To remove backgrounds from images, we recommend using clipping paths in Adobe Photoshop. For instance, images with white backgrounds instead of clear backgrounds may be visible when printed. Avoid using Quark's clipping paths, as that the results can be unpredictable.
Resolution: Images need to have an effective resolution of at least 200 DPI, and a recommended resolution of 275-300 DPI to print sharply. Note: Images over 300 DPI will only increase file size, not increase resolution. Images under 200 DPI may result in pixelated, fuzzy quality. Images pulled from the internet are nearly always 72 DPI, much too low for high resolution printing.
Trapping: Printco's Prepress process is set to automatically remove any trapping features. If you do apply trapping to graphics files created in Illustrator or Freehand, our system will multiply the trapping that is already there. Instead, set all your files to knockout.
Step 5: Preflight
The final step to creating a clean, print-ready file is running a preflight on your files. This will alert you of any potential problems. The preflight can be set to alert a variety of issues, from overset text to low-resolution images.