1. How should I set up my files? Build your files at full size with an 1/8" bleed without any crop or trim marks (see the definition of bleed below). If you are unable to submit files with bleed we will try to extend the elements and/or scale up to create the bleed. If your final size is larger than your software can accommodate then work at 1/2 size or 1/4 size.

  2. What is bleed? Bleed can be confusing because it refers to both the design of the piece and how it is set up for printing. Bleed for printing means that you when save your document for printing you create a document with excess that will be trimmed off in the production process. Any content that goes to the trim edge should continue past to the bleed size. Bleed in your print files is necessary to account for the material shift that occurs in the printing and finishing processes AND to let them work properly with our CNC routers and cutters.

  3. What types of files should I use? The best file formats are PDF for vector and composite files, and JPG or TIFF for raster only files. PDF, JPG and TIFF will all work in the Online Designers where you can see and confirm your print size (as well as save money!) and they also work from the Products where you select the print and options and attach your file there. These are also the file types you'll need to use when ordering through the products on the website.
  4. What types of files can I use? When ordering through the Products we also accept native Adobe Creative Suite and QuarkXPress files but you must be sure to include all necessary components such as fonts and placed images. Microsoft Publisher files rarely print correctly so we do not accept them. Fortunately, Publisher can create high quality PDFs but the settings can be confusing so feel free to contact us for assistance. Orders using these native files will need to be submitted through the "Manual upload w/instructions" link.
  5. But I only have Microsoft Office and need to use Word, PowerPoint or Excel! Microsoft Office files (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) often cause problems, so we would prefer that you send PDFs instead. Recent versions of Office can create easily create PDFs and we are happy to help walk you through the process of creating PDFs from them. Carefully check every page of the PDFs to be sure nothing has changed from how they looked in Office! If you are unable to create PDFs we can usually work from Office files but it will add a minimum of one day to the production time.
  6. What resolution do I need? For close viewing distances raster image components should be 100ppi at the print size. Hard-edged raster components (e.g. text done in Photoshop) can be up to 200 ppi at the print size. For longer viewing distance banners and signs you can go lower without any visible difference.
  7. What about color matching? The short answer is that we use an ICC color managed workflow for consistent and predictable output. We honor embedded input profiles and if there are none we assign our defaults of U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for CMYK, ColorMatch RGB for RGB, and Dot Gain 20% for grayscale. We do not adjust your files to "improve" the color. Please see the color matching section in the Guidelines for more information.
  8. Any other set up considerations? Send every individual print as a separate page or file. We will gang up and/or impose them to get the best use of material. If you are creating for a multi page small format order set it up as reader spreads, not printer spreads. And don't forget that blank pages are just as important as printed pages.

  9. What is the difference between a Sign and a Poster with the same materials? The differences are in print speed/quality, acceptable imperfections in the finished product, and price. Please see Choosing between a sign and a poster in the Guidelines for more information.