The printing world is more than simply uploading your photo, design or artwork onto a website template and sending it to print. From terms like bleeds, CMYK, RGB, safe zones and more, there is a lot more to printing than meets the eye. However, these terms are important to understand as you are getting your files ready for print. Why? Because they ensure your prints come out just as you were expecting them to… without surprises.
Here are Tepsi’s top printing tips to keep in mind when setting your files up for print.
What does BLEED mean?
A Bleed in printing is used when your photo, design or artwork extends to the edges of the paper. The easiest way to explain a bleed is that it is an extra inch or so added to your project to ensure you will not see any white lines or areas around your prints when they are cut to their final size. Typically, bleeds range anywhere from .125 inches to .5 inches, depending on the type of project and the printer you are working with.
At Tepsi, we use a .125” bleed. This means if you are creating a postcard that you want to be 5×7 once printed, the file submitted needs to be 5.25×7.25. This file size reflects a .125” bleed on each side of your postcard.
When do you need a bleed? We highly recommend adding a bleed to all of your projects. I mean, especially if you don’t want to see a white border around your finished print.
Why do you need a SAFE ZONE?
Like a bleed, a Safe Zone is necessary to ensure none of the text or important parts of a photo are cut off once your project is printed. A safe zone is typically a .125” area inside of the area of your project. Think of a safe zone as a margin that you need to keep everything inside so it’s not in danger of getting cut off. A safe zone is important to remember when you are printing, especially if you are designing marketing materials such as business cards, postcards and menus. I mean, you wouldn’t want the email address on your business card to be cut off, right?
Similar to our bleed requirements, Tepsi uses a .125” safe zone on all of our printed pieces to ensure important information does not get cut off.
What’s the difference between RGB and CMYK?
RGB is an acronym for Red, Green and Blue and is used to describe the colors seen digitally on your computer, tablet and phone. To create the colors seen on your screens, your devices use a combination of Red, Green and Blue.
On the other hand, CMYK is an acronym for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. CMYK is used to describe the colors seen once printed. To create the colors printed on your pieces, the printer actually uses a combination of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.
Take a look at the above photo for comparison. Instantly, you recognize that RGB is a more vibrant and almost neon, while CMYK is more natural and less saturated. Why is this important when you are setting up your files for print? Because if you design your files in a RGB color mode, your colors will be vibrant on your screen. Once printed, the colors will, 99% of the time, not turn out as you expected. Your blues will be less neon, your greens will be duller and your pinks will appear darker.
To prevent any color distortion once printed, ensure that you, or your designer, is setting your files up for print in the CMYK color mode. In Adobe Illustrator, this is found under File and Document Color Mode. In Adobe Photoshop, this is found under Image and Mode.
Pro Tip: When designing for PRINT, always utilize the CMYK color mode. If you are designing for DIGITAL purposes, utilize the RGB color mode. If you use the opposite color mode for a platform, you WILL see a color difference.
Can I use SPECIAL FONTS?
Absolutely. We encourage you to use fonts that represent your brands personality. After all, that is what makes your business stand out from the traditional Ariel, Tahoma or Times New Roman font selections, right?
However, it is important to remember to either outline your font or flatten your project so that no fonts on your piece is editable when you send it in for print. This is critical when you are using awesome crazy fonts because if your printer doesn’t have that particular font, a PDF with live font (not outlined or flattened) will change to a basic font on your printers system. Which is not what you will be expecting when you open your prints. To ensure this does not happen, flatten your documents or save them out as high resolution images turned into a PDF.
To flatten fonts in Adobe Illustrator:
1. Select all fonts on your Artboard
2. Select TYPE on top of the navigation bar in Illustrator
3. Select CREATE OUTLINES and your text will be turned into vectors
You are ready to print!
Once you understand our top 4 printing tips for how to set your files up for print, you are ready to submit your files and be confident that your projects will come out just as you expected. However, we understand that understanding and learning these techniques might not come easy. So, if you have any trouble setting up your files or need assistance, give Tepsi a call at 570-476-4000 and one of our designers can walk you through setting up your file!