- What file formats/types are accepted?
- What if I used an application that is not listed as an accepted file format?
- What is a PDF?
- How do I create a PDF?
- What if my application cannot generate a PDF?
- How do I handle fonts and text?
- At what resolution should my images and graphics be saved?
- What are "bleeds"?
- What color settings should I use?
To maintain the integrity of your files and to ensure the highest printability, we require that your files be submitted as Adobe Acrobat PDF files whenever possible. For more information on PDF and how to produce an optimal file, please refer to our PDF section.
- .PDF = Adobe Acrobat
We can also work with the file formats below; however, there may be additional pre-press fees to work with these files. In many cases, we will also need all source graphics and fonts used in the creation of your documents, which may delay the proof process. If at all possible, save your files as PDFs to avoid these delays or potential issues.
- .EPS = Encapsulated PostScript File
- .AI = Adobe Illustrator
- .PSD = Adobe Photoshop
- .INDD = Adobe InDesign
- .QXD = QuarkXpress 6
- .TIF = Tagged Image
- .BMP = Bitmap Format
- .JPG = Joint Photographic Experts Group Format
- .PUB = Microsoft Publisher
- .PPT = Microsoft PowerPoint
- .DOC = Microsoft Word
Your application may be able to generate a PDF file, but it may not be capable of creating a PDF that meets quality 4-color-printing standards. If this is the case, refer to your application's help files or manual, as they generally contain chapters referring to creating PDF files and preparing files for commercial printing. While we accept any PDF file that meets our requirements and passes our preflight process, we can only provide support for the applications listed on our website.
The Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) is the universal file format for preserving your document fonts, graphics, images and layout, regardless of the application or operating system that was used in creating the file. ColorPro prefers to work exclusively with PDF files to make sure that your job looks and prints as close to your original design as possible.
Most modern word processing and design applications have the ability to create PDF files, however not all PDF files are created the same. The way you generate a PDF is as important as with which program you generate it. Because PDF files are compatible with both print and web use, they can be generated using different standards. If you are not mindful, your layout created perfectly in its native format may not have the proper settings when generating a PDF.
Three Common Ways to Generate a PDF File
- Save As (Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator) - This method offers the least amount of user customization and has the potential for the most problems. Most office applications (Microsoft Office, Publisher, PowerPoint, etc.), the Windows and Macintosh OSX operating systems, and low-grade graphics software will give you little or no control over many important settings and will not create quality PDF files. However, higher-end graphics applications, such as Adobe Photoshop CS and Adobe Illustrator CS, can correctly generate PDFs using this method.
- Print to PostScript and Distill to PDF - This is the best way to create PDF files using graphic applications other than the Adobe Creative Suite applications or QuarkXPress 6. However, it can be complex and difficult to configure. In this method, files are printed first into a PostScript file, then distilled into a PDF using Acrobat Distiller.
- Export to PDF (QuarkXPress 6 & InDesign CS) - Many of the more current design applications have built into them an export engine that generates press-ready PDF files, provided you use the correct settings. QuarkXPress 6 and Adobe InDesign CS are good examples of software that has this built-in feature. (Older applications such as Adobe PageMaker require that you use Acrobat Distiller.)
The Best Ways to Make Good PDF Files
Before you generate a PDF:
- Read the help guide for the application you are using.
- If you are printing using spot colors (Pantone or PMS), DO NOT convert your color to CMYK or RGB.
- We will convert your RGB colors to CMYK during the preflight process.
When generating a PDF:
- Always embed and subset all fonts.
- Set Transparency Flattening settings to the highest settings (when appropriate).
- Make sure your Photoshop images are RGB and using the Adobe RGB (1998) color space. sRGB limits the color gamut, while Adobe RGB allows for a much larger range which is more suitable for ultimate CMYK Conversion.
- It is recommended that in the Output settings options that you set Color Conversion to NO COLOR CONVERSION, and choose INCLUDE ALL RGB AND TAGGED SOURCE CMYK PROFILES from the Profile Inclusion Policy section. Your files will be processed and converted during preflighting in our pre-press department. We have optimized our pre-press workflow settings to achieve the richest and widest range of color possible.
- Use PDF Compatibility settings of Acrobat 6 (PDF 1.5) or greater.
- If prompted, set Vector Output Resolution to 2400 or 2540.
- Use Binary data format instead of ASCII.
- Recommended (but not necessary): If using a vector-based program such as Adobe Illustrator, convert all text to outlines to avoid font problems. If you do this, however, last minute text edits on our end will not be possible.
- If using Adobe Photoshop, DO NOT flatten your file. Save as a Photoshop PDF file. Flattening forces any text to take the resolution settings of your document and can result in "jaggy" text.
After generating a PDF:
- Check the size of your PDF. Does it contain bleed information and trim marks?
- Check the Document Properties in Acrobat (under the File menu) to confirm that your fonts were embedded and subsetted.
- Generate a printed proof of your project on your desktop printer to double-check accuracy.
Common Errors with PDF Files:
- Generated using a low-quality PDF Writer
- Saved from Microsoft applications such as Word or Publisher (fonts, text quality and colors are very unpredictable out of these programs)
- Generic settings such as eBook, Screen, or Web, which dumb down the PDF to make smaller, more portable files
- Downsampled images (High resolution images resampled to low resolution)
- High Resolution images not embedded (using OPI)
- Built at the wrong size (no bleed or trim information for files that contain design elements that bleed off the edge of the page)
If you are using a Microsoft Windows compatible application and have no proper way of generating a PDF file, a FREE PDF creator is available here.
Please be aware that the developers of this product have no affiliation with ColorPro Printing, and that the above link is only being recommended as a helpful resource. The software is very easy to use and provides, in most cases, a decent press-ready PDF file with very few issues. It installs like a printer driver and is accessible from most applications.
If you are designing using vector-based applications such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, it is recommended that you convert all your text to outlines before you create your PDF file. If you design your file using Adobe Photoshop, do not flatten the image as flattening forces your text to take on the same resolution as the rest of the document and may make your text appear "jaggy". Simply save as a Photoshop PDF file.
It is strongly recommended that all color and grayscale images used in your documents are saved with at least 300 pixels per inch for optimal printing. All bitmap (black and white) graphics should be saved with at least 600 pixels per inch. Generating files with a resolution higher than 300 pixels per inch is unnecessary and will not enhance the quality of your final print — it will only increase file size and transfer time. We optimize all PDF files for print during our pre-press process, and all images are downsampled to 300 ppi.
If your document is designed to contain images that extend off the edge of the page, this is called a "bleed". All files with bleeds need to be created at the final trim size with an 1/8" of extra image space added on all four sides, keeping in mind that we will be trimming away that area. So your file should be 1/4" larger than the product size that you are ordering (i.e. an 8.5" x 11" flyer shoud actually be set up as 8.75" x 11.25"). If you have questions or issues regarding bleed or image safe zones, please refer to our free design templates. For a more detailed description of bleeds and how to make them, please download this document. If you are using Adobe InDesign, please refer to this document.