ABCs of print files

When preparing print files, keep the following in mind:

Bleed

If background colors or images run to the paper’s edge, you must add 3-5 mm of bleed. (The exact amount of bleed depends on the printing process used, so check with your sales manager).

Colors

For normal four-color printing, make sure that all colors in the file are defined in CMYK color space. Text is usually set to black (K). Unless you are purposefully adding an additional Pantone spot color, ensure that no colors are defined as spot, as they will convert to CMYK and render differently than expected.

Image quality (resolution)

The resolution of images should be between 200–300 dpi. It should also be 2 x lpi. For example, if lpi is 150 (for a magazine), dpi should be 300; if lpi is 85 (for a newspaper), dpi should be 170. Note that increasing resolution artificially may not produce the desired result. Use your photo-editing program to check the inherent resolution of images.

PDF profiles 

When preparing a print file in a layout program, use the PDF/X:1-a (2001 or 2003) standard profile. When exporting the file to PDF, use the ICC profile that corresponds to the paper and printing process used. When generating a PDF file, ensure that all fonts are embedded. ICC profiles can be downloaded here.

Overprint policy

100% black is automatically set to overprint (text or object on colour background).

CMYK colours, including white, are automatically set to knock out.

Note that sometimes complex objects in PDF files can’t be modified by the system, so it’s always preferable to avoid mistakes like setting white to overprint in the first place, rather than relying on automatic fixes.

If you wish to deliberately use CMYK overprint effects, you must inform us about this so we can disable overprint conversion for particular pages.

Solid black colour objects (except text and thin lines) 

To avoid “pinholes” from paper dust and dull black colour, always use CMYK black (rich black) for larger black objects. There are many different recipes. Our recommendation for a neutral rich black is: 40% Cyan; 30% Magenta; 30% Yellow and 98% Black.

To ensure sharpness, text smaller than 8pt or lines thinner than 2pt should not be a combination of component colours. Use a solid 100% of any component colour (100% black, or 100% cyan, etc). At most, use two component colours for objects this small or thin.

Negative text:

To ensure a legible result, we do not recommend white text on a solid background (negative text) that is smaller than 6pt (for sans-serif fonts, e.g. Arial, Helvetica) or 8pt (for serif fonts, e.g. Times New Roman). Likewise, we do not recommend negative lines thinner than 1pt.

Empty page

Any blank pages in your publication must be included in the print file.

Thin lines on color surfaces

Be aware that in four-color printing, thin lines and small type may appear blurred when placed on colored surfaces or color photos.

Indicia

We will add all required printing indicia to the PDF file. There is no need to add color bars, registration marks and other printing indicia to your file.