Creating artwork for print

Our guide to creating print-ready artwork

If you wish to supply your own finished artwork for litho printing, it's important to ensure your files have been set up correctly. The following pointers will help you avoid costly adjustments to your artwork.

Choose your document print colours

Every colour you use in your document requires a printing plate to be made. A document with more than three colours, or a document containing colour photographs, will be converted to use the four process printing colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). This allows for full colour printing with four plates.

Additional colour plates can be added to a full colour print, for example if your logo requires a PANTONE® colour.

The number of printing plates is significant in the costing of a print job.

Convert colour photographs to CMYK

If your document contains colour photographs, these should be converted to the CMYK colour mode before inserting them into your document. Digital cameras and scanners, and images taken from the web, will typically be in the RGB colour mode by default. RGB images will look dull and flat when printed on a press.

To convert images to CMYK, you will need to use image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Set image resolution to 300ppi

All photographs and other bitmap graphics (JPG, PNG, TIF) should have a resolution of at least 300ppi (pixels per inch) at the size they are to be used.

Images supplied at a lower resolution will appear pixellated. The lower the resolution, the worse the effect will be. Supplying images with a higher resolution will not impact the quality.

If you have taken images from a website or a digital document, be aware that these are likely to be at 72ppi resolution.

All photographs or bitmapped images should have a resolution of approximately 300ppi (pixels per inch) at the size they are to be used. If a lower resolution is used, the images may look pixilated, the lower the resolution the worse the effect will be.

Supplying files with greater resolution will not impact on quality but will simply increase the file size making them harder to e-mail or take longer for your desktop printer to output.

Include a bleed edge

If images, graphics or type are intended to run off the edge of the page (bleed) you must allow for this in your document. Your document should have a "bleed edge" of at least 3mm around the edge where the graphics overlap. We will then cut the document down to size.

If you do not include a bleed edge, your document may be supplied with a white margin, or may be trimmed a few millimetres under size.

Package your fonts

When sending your document files, always include any fonts used in your document. If we do not have a font you have used on our system, it will be substituted with another font. This can cause the document to look very different, and even cause text to flow outside of where it is supposed to.

Check colours using separations

Some design software allows "separations" to be output to your desktop printer. This allows you to check you have only used the colours you intended to use. Any extra colours in the supplied file may incur an extra "troubleshooting" charge.

Include a hard copy

When supplying your artwork, always include a colour print out of each page. This allows us to check that your artwork looks the same on our system as it does on yours.

For printing advice and pricing information, contact our customer service team on 0370 779 0303, email [email protected] or complete the enquiry form.

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