Do you have to prepare documents for printing? If so, here are some tips / hints so you don’t get your files back from your printer. Over the years, I have been amazed by people who have graduated from graphic school but don’t know how to save files for proper printing. If you want a good quality printed product, preparing your document correctly is one of the most important aspects of the printing process. Everyone, including the printer, wants you to have a good quality printed part.

Below is a table showing you how to save your files to send to the printer.

Photoshop: TIF, PSD, CMYK colors.

Set all fonts to outlines and make sure your work is saved as CMYK. RGB colors are not for printing. Flatten your file before saving.

InDesign: EPS, AI, .pdf sets all fonts to outlines and embeds all links.

Corel Draw: CDR, EPS, AI or .pdf set all fonts to curves.

Illustrator: EPS, AI, or .pdf sets all fonts to outlines and embeds all links.

NOTE: Save your outlined files with a new file name. You cannot undo and edit if necessary if you save your original file with outlines.


Photoshop – Color mode should be CMYK or Pantone, depending on what you’re printing; do not use RGB. (CMYK mode uses cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink colors to mix colors.) If you are printing your file digitally, convert Pantone and other non-CMYK spot colors to CMYK before submitting the files for printing.

Microsoft Publisher or Word: If you use Publisher or Word, save your files as PDF. Sometimes they lose their formatting if you send them as a Publisher or Word file. Make sure your colors are not RGB.

InDesign – Convert all fonts to outlines / curves / paths. You must convert fonts to outlines before creating an .eps, .ai. Or .pdf file. Make sure to save your file with outlined fonts under a new file name.

CorelDRAW: save as .cdr or export to .eps, .ai or publish to .pdf export all text as curves.

Illustrator – Convert all fonts to outlines / curves / paths. You must convert fonts to outlines before creating an .eps, .ai. or .pdf file. Make sure to save your file with outlined fonts under a new file name.

Again, be sure to save as PMS colors for spot color printing or CMYK for digital printing.

Quark, InDesign, Illustrator, and CorelDRAW can be configured to convert everything to CMYK during PDF creation. Make sure you look at your dpi and make sure it’s a minimum of 300.

Bleed – If your job has a “bleed” (where graphics are printed on the edge of the page), when you create the PDF, specify the bleed with a minimum of 125 “. A bleed ensures nothing important is cut off and you not have a thin white line around the edges.

Document Size: When selecting your document size, leave at least 1/8 “of your background art / graphics around the edges to” bleed “if your document has art that goes all the way to the edge of the page; or all around the off-page bleed area. This ensures that all art and text will be visible once the document is cut and will not have a thin white line anywhere. DO NOT place any text within 1/8 “of its edge of the document.

Spot colors: Spot colors are used many times in printing and can be used in .cdr, .eps, .ai. Or .PDF. These are typically used for 2- or 3-color jobs or jobs that are not digitally printed. If you need very accurate coloring according to the swatches in a PMS (Pantone Matching System) book, you probably want spot colors. PMS colors should not be used in CMYK jobs, conversion to CMYK through the exit program is not always completely accurate for all PMS colors. Your spot color PDF must be created in a CMYK mode regardless of whether or not any of the CMYK colors are used, if you are going to use it for both spot color and digital printing. Many people think that they can choose colors by looking at a PMS color on their monitor or phone, but that is not the case. Monitors and phones vary and you might be very disappointed if you choose colors this way. Always use a PMS book to choose color accurately.

NOTE: Photoshop files, .JPEG, some tiffs, and bitmap files are not acceptable formats for printing. Resolution must be at least 300 dpi; save up to 100% print size. Make sure your final file has CMYK or PMS colors depending on the printing method you want. RGB colors are for web use: not printing. Always check with your printer to see in what format you prefer it to save your files.

Here’s a good YouTube video I found – To create a proper .PDF file, check out this YouTube video:, it provides various helpful tips.

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