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Creating Print-Ready Files

Written By Allison Yates

July 15, 2021

You’ve created an eye-catching design (and that copy you wrote? … Shakespeare has nothing on you!), but now what?

You need to get your file to the printer and begin the production process. This is where things can get a little tricky. Whether you are printing a simple flyer to hand out for an event or an Annual Report going to your Board of Directors, following a few simple—but important—steps when setting up and exporting your files will ensure your project is a success from start to finish.

Creating Proper Bleed

Though it might sound a little scary, that’s not the kind of bleeding we’re talking about! In print terms, bleed is when an object or image extends beyond the trim size of your design. Bleed is required when you have art that hits the final trim edge of your page, and it is necessary to maintain a uniform trim. Industry standard bleed area is 1/8″ (.125 inch), but it can be as large as you want it to be, as long as it’s within reason.

Here’s how to set up your bleed:

In your Document Setup window, use these settings:

This will add a visible guide for your bleed and will display like so:

Next, pull any objects or images that you want to meet the trim, past the trim line to the bleed line:

Do this throughout your document to ensure you will have images and objects uniformly trim when they are meant to meet the trim edge.

Recommended Image Resolutions and Best Types

Image resolution and image type is very important, because if you choose the wrong type you may end up with a Monet, “[…] from far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big ol’ mess.” Any other Clueless fans out there?!

Your documents usually will consist of three basic elements: text, images (raster), and objects (vector). Text = copy. Easy Peasy. Images and objects are a bit more complicated.

Images 

Images are photos that you place in the document (e.g., pictures, headshots, etc.). Ideally, you want these images to be at least 300dpi. DPI is a measurement of how many dots per inch are used to create the image you are seeing. The bigger the number, the finer the details. Photoshop is the best application for image editing and preparation. You can check the image size, the DPI and make any necessary color adjustments. 

All images should be converted from RGB to CMYK (or Grayscale for black and white). When saving the images, there are many options when it comes to file formats, but the best for printing is a .tiff file. Other file formats, such as GIF, PNG, and BMP, compress the file and lead to possible corruption or loss of detail in the image. Keep in mind when placing images that when you enlarge them, the resolution reduces. 

Objects 

Objects are charts, logos and graphs that are created outside of the page layout program. They don’t retain any resolution so they can be sized as small or large as you need without degrading the quality. Objects are created with programs like Adobe Illustrator, and the best formats to save as are .ai and .eps.

Packaging Files

Alright, so you have everything finalized and now it is time to package it up. When packaging your files to send to print, it is best to include your working document, the images placed in the document and the fonts used to build the copy. This allows the printer to easily make any edits needed during the pre-production/proofing process.

Here are the steps you can take to package files automatically using InDesign:

Step 1: You want to make sure you have all links up to date and all fonts being used are active.

Step 2: Under the File menu, select “Package”

Step 3: This window will open and give you a summary of your file and the packaging process. You want to make sure this doesn’t mention any missing images or fonts.

Step 4: The next window will ask you to save the document, which you should do. Then a window will open that will ask where you want to save the packaged files. Choose the location where you want to save your packaged folder and then check these options at the bottom of the window:

Including an IDML and a PDF is not required but can be helpful if your printer hasn’t upgraded to the latest version of InDesign.

Step 5: After clicking the Package button, a popup will remind you about unauthorized font usage. Once you continue, the packaging process will start. 

Step 6: Find your folder with your files. The folder should include your document, a folder named links with all of your linked images and a folder named document fonts with all of the fonts used. At this point, you can compress that folder to a .zip and transfer it over to your Project Manager.

Transferring Files

There are a few ways to send files: plane, train, or automobile. Kidding! But seriously, there are three primary ways to transfer files. If you have trouble or issues with one way, don’t get frustrated; just try another method. We are flexible!

Email

If there is no sensitive information in your document (i.e. data) and the file is small enough, feel free to email it. Just make sure the file is zipped to avoid any corruption while it passes through cyberspace.

More Vang FTP Site 

There are two options for uploading files on the MV site

Option 1: Web Upload

If your file is less than 50 MB, you can upload by completing a simple form. Make sure you select your Project Manager from the drop down menu, and they will be automatically notified when the file is uploaded. 

Option 2: FTP Software

If your file is over 50 MB, you will have to transfer files directly to our FTP server with your own software (such as Filezilla or Fetch). You will need to be set-up with a username and password, which your Project Manager can help you with if you do not already have one. The process for setting up a username and password for the FTP takes about 24-hours, so plan accordingly and use other transfer options as needed for rush projects. 

Please note that your Project Manager does NOT get a notification when files are posted directly to the FTP server, so you will need to email them to let them know that you’ve transferred files. Here are some more detailed instructions for transferring files using this option.

Free File Transfer Site

You can also transfer files using a third-party service like WeTransfer.com. If you are using this option, send the files directly to your Project Manager.

That’s it—following these steps will help your project sail through production. If you run into any issues, reach out to your Project Manager for help!