File Preparation Guidelines

Q.What File Formats do you accept?

A.We will be happy to accept all industry-standard graphic file formats, including Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, PDF, TIFF, EPS, and JPG. We regularly work with other file formats as well, so don't hesitate to contact us if you don't see your preferred file format listed here. Also consider using Adobe PDF JobReady, which effortlessly converts all files into an industry standard PDF format. Adobe PDF JobReady is easy to use, powerful, and free ... and it's available from our Adobe PDF JobReady page.

Q.What files do I need to send you for printing my document?

A.That depends on the type of document you're sending. If you're providing a print-ready PDF, that PDF is the only file you'll need to send. However, if your document was created elsewhere (in a page layout program, for example), you will need to include the page layout document, fonts, and any image files used in your design, as well.

Q.What is a PDF file?

A.Documents in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) preserve the exact look and content of the originals, complete with fonts and graphics, and can be printed, distributed by e-mail, and shared and stored on network systems (including the Internet) for others to use and view. When properly created, PDF files have proven to be an excellent method for generating quality printing.

Q.Why do I need to include separate files for the images in my document?

A.Page-layout programs do not actually save the images you insert as part of the document. Instead, they point to the image files on your computer. If you send us only the document file you created in the page-layout software, we may be unable to print the images it references. To get around that, make sure you save the entire package. Most page-layout programs will have that as a File option. If yours doesn't, please remember to send us the actual art files that your project uses in addition to the document file.

Q.Why do I need to include the fonts with my project file? Don't you already have them?

A.While it's true that we have a large font collection in-house and probably have fonts of the same name as those in your project, fonts from different manufacturers may not have the same characteristics even if they share the same name. These inconsistencies can produce unexpected output. The only way to guarantee correct output is for us to use the same fonts as you did, so please include your fonts.

Q.What file format should I use to save the images for my document?

A.There are many graphic file formats available, and each format was developed for a specific use. The file formats developed for use in the printing industry are the Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) and Encapsulated PostScript (EPS). Graphics in other formats will need to be converted to TIFF or EPS.

Q.Where can I find my fonts for inclusion?

A.Many page-layout programs will include your fonts automatically when you save your project as a package (typically a File menu option). If your software doesn't have this option, you can convert the fonts to outlines, or rasterize your document, which converts it all to pixels. This will eliminate the need to send us your fonts. However, we will not be able to make text changes for you if you choose this route.

If you prefer sending us the fonts and your software doesn't package them automatically...

On a Windows-based computer, fonts are typically located in the main drive (C: on most systems), in Windows/Fonts. Additionally, you may have a folder named psfonts directly on the C: drive.

Fonts in the psfonts folder are PostScript fonts and require two separate files to accurately define a font's appearance. The first file, found in the psfonts folder, ends with a .pfb extension. The second matching file is found in the psfonts/pfm folder and ends with a .pfm extension. The font name can be accurately determined by double-clicking the .pfb or .pfm file.

On a Macintosh with OS X, your fonts can be found in either /Library/Fonts or /Users/(username)/Library/Fonts.

If you use a font management utility on either platform, fonts are found in a location specified by the utility.

Q.Should I compress my files before submitting them to your website?

A.Yes, we recommend compressing your files before sending them through the website. Compressing lets you combine multiple files into one compressed archive file. This allows you to easily select and send (and keep track of) just one file instead of multiple files. The single compressed archive file is smaller than the total size of all your uncompressed files, allowing it to reach us quicker.

Q.How do I compress my files (Mac)?

A.Compressing files is a fairly straightforward process and doesn't require an advanced degree in "geek." After selecting (highlighting) the files and/or folders you wish to compress, use one of these methods to create an archive of the compressed files:

Control-click on the file(s)/folder(s) and choose Create Archive. Go to the Action menu (the button that looks like a gear up in the Finder window's toolbar), and choose Create Archive. Select File > Compress (10.4) or File > Create Archive (10.5+) from the main navigation bar.

Your computer will create a new file, with the file extension ".zip." This is the compressed file you should send to us.

Q.How do I compress my files (PC)?

A.Compressing files is easy in Windows, too. Select (highlight) the files and/or folders you want to compress, right-click, scroll down to the "Send to" item, and select "Compressed (zipped) Folder" from the submenu that appears. Your computer will create a new file, with the file extension ".zip." This is the compressed file you should send to us.

Q.What is a "bleed"?

A.In printing, your products are often printed on a larger sheet than the final product, then cut to size. If you have colors on your product that stretch to the edge of the document, it's best to let those colors stretch, or "bleed" past the edge of the product size. That ensures your colors go all the way to the edge of your document.

Q.What resolution should my image files have?

A.Resolution is measured in dots per inch (DPI). The more dots per inch, the sharper your image will be. For printed products, the minimum resolution is typically 300dpi.