16005 Sturgeon, Roseville, MI 48066 586-598-1500 info@graphicseast.com

Preparing Files: Design Tips for Print

It All Starts With Awesome Art

Remember the age old saying… “Garbage In, Garbage Out?” Use the best photos and images possible! Images should be 300 DPI at 100% of the size that they’re placed. Images less than 300 DPI may work if using those images at a reduced size, but it’s best to rescan or re-shoot for enlarged images. Color photos can be converted to grayscale.

Choosing the Right Software

Quark and Indesign are great for multi-page layouts. Illustrator, known as vector art, works well for logos. Photoshop, or raster art, lets you size, color correct and manipulate scanned images. Manipulating images in the original graphic application before importing them into a page layout program, will conserve computer memory and minimize output delays and difficulties.

Color – It’s Critical

Offset printing requires that all files be in CMYK to separate properly. If there are PMS colors you are trapping for, make sure to create them in the same program due to color variances from one program to another. Trust the software – NOT the screen and laser printer. However, calibrating your monitor and printer will reduce discrepancies. Keep track of your colors and list your CMYK as “process” and PMS colors as “spot” to avoid confusion. If your job is 4-color (CMYK), be sure to convert all spot colors to process. Files should not exceed an ink density of 300%. When packing black we recommend the following value percentages: 40% Cyan, 30% Magenta, 30% Yellow, 100% Black.

Building The File

Files should be built at the actual print size. When working on a booklet with a finished size of 8.5″ x 11,” spreads should be created as two separate 8.5″ x 11″ pages, rather than an 11″ x 17″ single page. Where applicable, be sure to include 1/8″ bleeds on all four sides. We will make necessary adjustments for crossovers, gutter grind-off and creep on a saddle stitch book. Panel sizes vary according to type of fold and thickness of paper-stock. For example: when producing a roll-fold piece, the front and back cover panels are equal in size. Additional panels decrease in size, generally 1/16″ x 1/8″ depending on paper thickness.

Layering & Linking

If the file has multiple layers, clearly name them so that they can easily be identified. If die-lines are needed for an element of your project, create them as separate layers, assign individual spot colors and label them as: “DIE,” “FOLD,” “SCORE,” etc.


For your convenience, we've compiled a number of resources to help you answer your own questions, better under stand print and its processes, and find other relevant information. If you think of anything we've left out or you feel would be helpful, please contact us.

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16005 Sturgeon
Roseville, MI 48066

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