preparing your file for printing

Tips on Preparing Your File for Printing

If you’ve got some knowledge of design, and you’ve been working on your project in applications such as InDesign and Photoshop, then you’ll have little difficulty getting your head around this guide to preparing your file for printing at City Print, Wellington.

Setting up your page

Page setup – Adobe InDesign and Illustrator

Page size: Check that you have set your page size to match the final printed size. Use whole millimetres.

Margins: A safety margin is to be considered when setting up your file. Margin set-up is dependent on your product. For example, if your document is wiro bound, you will need to keep all important design elements such as text clear from the binding edge.

Bleed: If your artwork goes to the edge of the page, you will need to add 3mm bleed.

Make sure the artwork is extended to the edge of the bleed line (red line):

Bleed and crops – printer’s marks

Why do you need document bleed and crop marks?

When your design goes right to the edge of the page, or “bleeds” off the page, you need to add an additional 3mm of bleed to your artwork. This is to ensure there’s no white edge if the guillotine cuts slightly off the crop mark.

Crop marks tell the guillotine operator where to trim.

Preparing images for print in Photoshop

Image resolution: Ensure that your images have a resolution of at least 300ppi (Pixels per inch).

preparing your file for printing
The correct image resolution for printing

Printing uses high-resolution images that are 300ppi to ensure that crisp, sharp images are reproduced.

There are two ways to determine if your images are sufficiently high-res for printing:

Method 1

Using Photoshop: Images size > change Resolution to 300 Pixels/Inch > Uncheck Resample. The results in the Width and Height fields are the dimensions your image is sized

Method 2

Find your image dimensions in pixels by right-clicking the image and choosing Properties (PC), or Get Info (Mac). Divide the number of pixels in the image by 300.

The results are the dimensions your image is sized. For example, if you had a 1200px x 600px image, take 1200px divided by 300 = 4, and 600 divided by 300 = 2. You image will print at 4” x 2″.

Setting the right colours for printing

Colour mode: All images must be supplied in CMYK. CMYK is a four-colour printing process made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key black (key plate which has the base detail of the image).

Colours – InDesign

Set-up for offset printing:

If your job includes PANTONE colours, please ensure they have been assigned in your colour swatches.

To add a PANTONE colour, navigate to the Swatches panel > click the menu button top right corner > New colour swatch > See screenshot for settings: Colour Type: Spot, Colour Mode: PANTONE + Solid Coated > Type in your PANTONE number

preparing your file for printing

PANTONE and RGB colour systems

PANTONE colours, also known as PMS (PANTONE Matching System) or spot colours, is a colour matching system to ensure universal colour accuracy. It’s commonly used for printing logos and branded collateral for colour consistency. Professional brands are assigned specific PMS colours.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is used for screen viewing. This system has a wider colour spectrum than CMYK. Sometimes you’ll see a bright, vibrant colour on screen, which cannot be reproduced by printing onto paper. Make sure your colour swatches and images do not include RGB colours.

Logo formatting: raster vs vector

Perhaps the most common error we see in supplied print files are logos which aren’t formatted as vector, they’re supplied as raster.

Even worse, some have just been pulled from a website. Not only are these raster files, they are low resolution. It’s important to supply a vector logo for clean, crisp printing, and colour accuracy.

What are the differences between them?
Raster (bitmap)

Made of pixels. Resolution dependent, e.g. photographs.

Common raster file types: jpg, tiff, png, gif, Photoshop PSD, bmp.


Made of mathematical calculations that form shapes. Not resolution dependent. Vector graphics can be scaled to any size without losing quality, e.g. logos, fonts, and solid shapes.

Common vector file types: eps, ai (Adobe Illustrator), PDF, svg.

With vector files, you can select the separate elements of the logo and assign PMS colours. Rasterised logos are flattened and have minimal flexibility when it comes to editing them.

preparing your file for printing

You can really see the difference in quality when the logos are enlarged.

Binding and finishing

You need to know how your design will be bound/finished before you set up your file.

For example, if your publication is saddle stapled, your document needs to be set up as signatures (multiples of four), with enough margin for page creep. Or, perfect-bound books will need a larger inside margin because 4-6mm is lost when they’re bound.

File formats

In most cases, we require a print-ready PDF document to go to press. For multi-page documents, supply as single pages, not spreads or imposed.

When exporting from Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, use the Press Quality preset.

preparing your file for printing

When preparing your file for printing, don’t forget to supply with 3mm bleed, crop marks and registration marks.

Upload your print-ready PDF file to our secure file transfer service SHARE.

Other common accepted file types:

  • Adobe InDesign package (zipped)
  • Adobe Illustrator package (zipped)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft PowerPoint

If you don’t have a working knowledge of design programmes, relax!

Talk to our friendly design team and they’ll get alongside you, and work from your scamps or ideas to prep your project for printing. Contact us at City Print for further help with your design, and printing.