File Format Setup

High-resolution PDFs (which include applicable vector data) are nearly always the ideal file format. Following is a list of other acceptable formats, with disclaimers:

  • JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP – text and vector shapes may lose sharpness.
  • Microfoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher – Font substitutions may occur, multiple cross-platform issues may arise.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator – Fonts may be rasterized or substituted.
  • InDesign – Fonts and Links (images) may be missing.


What is “Bleed” and why do I need it

If you want the printed image to extend to the edges of the paper, your document will need to be designed with “bleed”. Bleed refers to the process of extending all background elements past the document edge, producing a margin that can be trimmed off. This prevents any white edges remaining on your final product.

This is a diagram that demonstrates how to properly apply bleed to a business card layout.


  • The document size is 1/4 inch taller and wider than the final business card size.
  • The red shaded area shows which portions will be cut off.
  • The area inside the dotted red line shows where it is safe to place text.

You can use the following principles to apply bleed to any document.

  • Determine the width and height, in inches, that you want your finished product to be.
  • Create a document that is 1/4 inch taller and 1/4 inch wider than your desired product size.
  • Create 1/8 inch margins on all sides of your document. The interior edge of these margins will be your “Cut Line”
  • Background colors and images should extend all the way through this 1/8 inch margin. Do not place anything you wish to be visible in the final product in this 1/8 margin, as all material in this area will be cut off of the final product.

Spot Color or 4-Color?

Spot colors use ink that is custom mixed. Generally, spot color is used with 1- or 2-color printing. Inks like fluorescent orange, metallic gold or Pantone colors are examples of spot color. For more color choices at a lower cost, use CMYK color in your design. Full-color photos are always printed in CMYK.

Spot color printing

All design intended to print on an offset press outside of the CMYK color model, which includes colors besides black, must be designed using your selected spot colors ONLY, and submitted in PDF, AI, or INDD formats. If color separations are not prepared correctly, customer may be asked to make the correction, or pay a design fee.



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