Designing your first print project? Not to worry. Here are some of the most common questions we see in our day-to-day for print design specifications:

RGB and CMYK Color

Why doesn’t the color match what I see on my computer screen?

There’s a difference in the way colors are created on your screen and on a printed sheet of paper. What you see on your screen is additive color. It starts with a black screen, then adds pixels of red, green, and blue (RGB) to create color. In contrast, print color is a subtractive process. A white sheet of paper reflects 100% of the background colors.

Design software, like Adobe Photoshop, will allow you to convert the color mode of your photography from RGB mode to CMYK to get a better idea of how your images will appear in print.

Spot Colors

How can I make sure my brand colors are always the same?

Process or CMYK colors are built from a combination of inks, but sometimes you’ll want a very specific color. Spot color is an exact mix of ink that produces colors defined by the Pantone Matching System (PMS). That’s why spot color is frequently called Pantone Color or PMS color.

If you don’t know the exact Pantone colors for your brand or logo, it is possible to convert colors from RGB images on your website. Because of the difference in appearance between the RGB color you see on a computer monitor and CMYK color used in print, a better way is to actually select the correct color from a Pantone swatch book.

Image Resolution

Why do the photographs in my brochure look blurry or jagged?

The answer has to do with the difference in the way images are produced on a computer screen and on paper and the way your eyes see the images. On a screen, what you actually see is pixels (dots) of light that constantly refresh.

On paper, your eyes require more dots to put together a clear image. The dots are made with ink, not light. They’re smaller and packed together more tightly than the pixels on your screen.

Small images downloaded from the internet won’t print clearly. For best results, photos and raster (that means dots) art should be provided at 300 DPI resolution at the final printed size.

Crops and Bleeds

How do I get the image to go all the way to the edge of the paper?

Actually, the image has to go over the edge of the “finished” sheet of paper. The effect is called a “bleed” and it’s produced when the paper is trimmed to final size after printing. When bleeds are required, we print on a sheet of paper that’s larger than the final size of your finished product, then cut into the printed area to produce the finished product.

Crop marks provide an indication of where the printed sheet should be trimmed. If you use layout software like Adobe InDesign, you’ll be able to easily specify crops and bleeds in the art you provide for printing. If you’re using other software, you’ll need to work with a sheet size that is ¼” taller and wider than the final size of your document.

Digital File Recommendations and Specifications

Print House accepts a variety of digital file formats for print. We’ll make every effort to work with you to assure that the quality of your project meets your expectations. The following recommendations will help to assure best results.

File Specifications

File Formats
  • PDF – prepared for print in CMYK mode with image resolutions at 300 DPI or higher and fonts embedded.
  • Adobe InDesign – Package for print provider or include all images and fonts.
  • Photoshop or other image file – PSD file with layers and fonts included. Flattened Photoshop files or raster (.jpg or .tif) images from other photo editing platforms should be submitted at 300 DPI in CMYK color mode. Our ability to alter or correct flat image files is limited.
  • Adobe Illustrator – Vector files in AI, PDF, or SVG formats are recommended for large format reproduction. For best results, submit files at final size with fonts converted to outlines. Embedded raster images should be in CMYK color mode and a minimum of 150 DPI at final size.
  • Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft PowerPoint – Microsoft Publisher and PowerPoint files are not recommended for professional print. For best results convert Publisher files to PDF format at finished size. Print House will accept Publisher and PowerPoint files in native format. If possible, provide images and fonts as separate files. Prepress charges will apply for file conversion and changes required before print.
  • Microsoft Word – Microsoft Word files are not recommended. For best results, convert Word files to .PDF before submitting files.
Bleeds and Safe Area

Bleed – ⅛” all sides

Safe Area – Allow a minimum safe area (margin) of ⅛”

Color Mode and Image Resolution

All images and files should be submitted in CMYK color mode. Recommended image resolution for offset and digital print is 300 DPI at final size. Recommended image resolution for wide format print is 150 DPI at final size.

Fonts and Graphics
Fonts and graphic images should be embedded in .pdf files. Please include or package font files and images separately if submitting native files. For best results, convert fonts to outlines in vector images (.ai, .eps, .pdf) for wide format print.
Multi-page documents (books, manuals, booklets) should be submitted in single page format and in page number order. You may include page numbers or request addition per your specifications.
You’ll want to make a final check of your art after prepress changes have been made. Print House provides PDF proofs for every project for your approval. PDF proofs may vary in color from monitor to monitor unless color calibration is applied. Hard copy proofs increase color accuracy. They are available by request and will be delivered for approval by your Print House sales representative. If color must be absolutely precise, we encourage you to schedule a Press Check to approve color and print quality as production begins.