Here at Alphagraphics Sandy, customers have asked which files are best to send for their design projects.
To help ensure the highest quality for your project to be printed, here are a few tips.
What is this file intended to do?
Is your file going straight to print? Or is it just getting imported into another file as part of a design we are creating for you, which is then going to be printed later? This answer will affect how you should to save your file(s).
Files for Alphagraphics Sandy.
Ultimately, your best option is to ask your sales representative how they would like to receive your files. Usually they will want PDFs. Sometimes however, we do prefer files in their native form, especially if edits need to be made during the proofing process. This helps keep your project on deadline.
Files to be embedded
Many files you create will be embedded or imported into something else, like InDesign.
We’re going to split these files into two categories: vectors and bitmaps.
You are best off saving vector artwork (the sort of stuff from Illustrator) as an EPS, PDF or AI file. PDFs and EPSs trump TIFFs and JPEGs every time for vector artwork. Even at 300dpi, TIFFs and JPGs don’t handle vector graphics nearly as well. Instead they have to convert vectors to pixels which lowers the quality of the artwork.
TIFFs, JPEGs and even PSDs are what you should be saving your bitmap files as (the sort of artwork/files created in Photoshop).
TIFFs and PSDs are lossless. You don’t lose any quality by saving a file as a TIFF or PSD.
JPEGs normally lose quality when you save them but take up a lot less space on your computer. A very high quality JPEG is often not a lot different than a TIFF or PSD, but it does very much depend on the sort of image you’re saving.
A TIFF or PSD is normally a better option than a JPEG. However if you’ve been supplied with a JPEG from a camera or stock photo website and you’re not modifying the image, then you will gain nothing from saving it as a TIFF or PSD. A TIFF or PSD cannot create detail where there was none in the first place. But a JPEG can remove detail where once there was some.
A couple of things here related to JPEGs. First, JPEGs can’t handle Pantones when saving as a JPEG, Pantones will convert into a CMYK value. Second, because the file is being compressed, any white space in between the colors is filled with a very subtle yellow/grey tint.
The Pantone Color Matching System is a standardized color reproduction system, utilizing the Pantone numbering system for identifying colors. By standardizing the colors, different printers and graphic designers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without directly contacting one another.
CMYK or process color refers to the four inks: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), these colors are used to create full color artwork or imagery.
Bleeds, and why they are important
The bleed area is very important when you have an image or background color on your artwork that runs all the way to the edge. If this is the case, it is important to make sure you add an 1/8 of an inch to your artwork to avoid the white strips that will run around the edge of the page.
These white strips can impact on the look of your printed artwork and in the case of business cards; brochures and flyers can at times cheapen the final look and feel of them. By ensuring you remember the bleed area when designing for print; you will be able to ensure these white strips don’t appear.
After your artwork has been printed, the bleed will be trimmed off to its finished size.
Ask your sales representative, but it’s usually best to send PDFs or native Creative Suite files (.ai, .psd, .indd-packaged)
Vectors: EPSs, PDFs and AIs
Bitmaps: TIFFs, PSDs and sometimes JPEGs (camera or stock photo)
Bleed: For images and background with color that goes to the edge add 1/8” to the artwork.