File Prep Instructions

When designing your own files for print, it is important to understand file requirements and standards to avoid production issues. Follow these guidelines while getting started in the design process to ensure file accuracy.

Document & Print Sizes

Digital files must be submitted at the size of desired output. Set your document page size to match the actual print size in your layout program (Publisher, Indesign, etc.) When designing oversize prints, you can set your document size to 50% of the desire output size (ex. 24×36 print size = 12×18 document size)

Our standard Print Sizes are:

Sheet Size

8.5″x11″ (Letter)
8.5″x14″ (Legal)
11″x17″ (Tabloid/Ledger)


18″x24″ (Posters)
24″x36″ (Posters)
36″x48″ (Posters)

Document Resolution

(or “DPI”) is the term used to describe the number of dots, or pixels, per inch used to display an image or file. Higher resolution means that more pixels are used to create the image, resulting in a crisper, cleaner image. An image will print pixelated when its resolution is low, or the image is enlarged significantly resulting in loss of quality. As a general guideline, 300 dpi is a sufficient resolution for most printed materials.

Document Color Mode

Make sure your document is set to CMYK Color Mode.
Why CMYK? Digital printers use combinations of four toner colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Keyline Black) to achieve print on paper. Attempting to print files that are in RGB can cause color matching issues.
RGB: Any pictures or files that are submitted in RGB color mode must be converted to CMYK prior to printing. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is intended for screen-viewing only. There are RGB color combinations (particularly very bright colors) that cannot be reproduced using CMYK process.
Pantone Swatches: Because digital printers use a four-color process, they are not able to match Pantone colors. Please let us know if color matching is an issue and we will make every effort to match Pantone colors as close as possible.

Bleed & No Bleed

Bleed: Files that have text, images, or colors that run off the trim edge of your final printed piece must be submitted with an extra 1/8″ (.125) border all around. This extra extension of your graphics is called a bleed. A bleed is necessary because it is impossible for a cutting blade to hit the exact same location on every page when cutting printed sheets in a stack.
No Bleed: If you do not want a bleed on your document, it should be submitted with at least a 1/8″ (.125) white border all around.

Trim Edge & Safe Guide

Any text or images that are not meant to run off the edge of your final printed piece should be at least 1/8″ (.125) to 1/4″ (.25) away from your trim edge. This is called the safe guide (see below). Due to the very slight shifting that occurs when cutting, any text or images that are too close to the trim edge may be cut off or show inconsistent margins. If you have text or images that do run off the edge of your final printed piece, they must extend at least 1/8″ (.125) beyond the trim edge in your file.
Download our File Prep Instructions

in PDF Format

File Prep Checklist

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