Helpful Hints & Tips

Hints and Tips to setting up files for printing

It is to both our advantages to have files supplied in a print-ready fashion.
The best tip we can give you is to talk to us before you embark on setting up your job, because we probably don’t do things the way you would on your A4 desktop printer.

Here is a summary of the problems we commonly encounter:

• File not PDF.
• File wrong size.
• Resolution not sufficient for print size.
• Graphics, images or fonts not included with file.
• Bleed not allowed for. (This is a persistent issue difficult to resolve if you don’t get it right).

Business card showing bleed

A good example of artwork with bleed

Here’s one we prepared earlier. The full image will print, then be trimmed off at the black trim lines, plus/minus 1-2mm, which is why the bleed is there.

We prefer not to print on A4 if we can help it because we get much better speed and economy by printing to larger sheets and cutting them down. If you are aiming for similar economy the best suggestion is to send us your file just 1-up and we’ll set up as many as we can fit to a sheet. This is all done electronically so the set-up is precise and painless.

Another important suggestion is that the file should be supplied as a PDF.

Why? Portable Document Format is just that and has become the default industry standard, mainly because it works so well. The reasons for this are that it does things that other formats don’t; it can be opened on any computer of any platform, whether PC or Mac or Linux and can be viewed with the free software downloadable from the Adobe website ( . More importantly it will look the same on every computer, unlike most word processing documents which will reformat depending on the version, printer settings and preferences set, so a Word file that you have carefully set up on your home computer to nicely fill one full page may open up on another computer as 2 pages. Obviously this is not an ideal result, mainly as it will cost you extra.

Our set-up cost on a PDF is very low, less than for other file types because they are more reliable. So, please send us a PDF. Having said that it is also important the settings be right when you create a PDF. All PDFs are not created equal. When you are making a PDF from your native file check the preferences, or options, or settings and make it at least a High Resolution file, not Standard. If you are making it from Word please DESELECT the option that says “Do not send fonts”. We want you to include the fonts in the PDF in case they are odd ones that we don’t have.

A common problem we encounter is that pages are not set-up to A4. You will need to do this because almost all software is set-up to the American standard which is letter size and is much more squat than A4.

Also important is to allow 3mm bleed on any document that requires it. What is bleed? This is where an area or print runs beyond the trimmed area of the page. If this is the case it means we have to run a larger sheet size and trim it down and if bleed isn’t supplied we have to trim a little extra off the edges, possibly 2-3mm off each edge so your finished job could end up quite undersized. Additionally don’t have anything important, such as logos or type, within 5mm of the edge, so that it doesn’t get trimmed off.

Putting bleed on a file is relatively easy in most graphics applications:

Indesign: File menu, export to PDF, select High Quality, select Marks and Bleeds, select Crop Marks and select 3mm bleed in all 4 boxes.

Photoshop varies somewhat depending on platform and version but try select file menu, select Print and in the dialogue box select Output (could show as Colour Management with Output as the option), select corner crop marks, and down below that select Bleed and allow 3mm. Print to PDF. If you just create the PDF through the Save you don’t have Bleed options so best to print to PDF.

Illustrator:Select the object. Select Filter>Create >Crop Marks. Make sure that the object extends at least 3mm beyond the trim marks if you want bleed. Then print to PDF.

Publisher: Under File menu, select Print, then in the Print dialogue box select Advanced Settings and there choose Allow Bleed and also Show Trim Marks in the check boxes. When you are setting up the document make sure that your bleed image actually does extend at least the 3mm beyond the page edge; the program can’t put in bleed image that you don’t have set up.

Word: Bleed with Word is more tricky and there is no simple answer. There are a few possible solutions, none entirely ideal. First solution, don’t have bleed, leave at least a 5mm margin all around. Second solution is to set up your A4 page on an A3, within a non-printing A4 box which bleed will extend beyond. We’ll have to put in the trim marks for you and crop it down to size so your set-up cost will be higher. Third solution is to set-up on an A4 page, take the image to the edge (only if you need to) and we’ll trim it as accurately as possible to the page edge. Ideally from Word, avoid bleed.


This is perhaps the most important point in the print process.  It is your last opportunity to check your job before it becomes hard, instead of soft copy. Check it carefully, not just for the way it looks but most importantly, the spelling. If we’ve produced the artwork for your print job we will send you at least one pre-print proof for final approval. We try really carefully to eliminate any errors but sometimes things slip through, especially, for example, if it’s an unusual name, or a common name with an unusual spelling. Ultimately it’s down to you to make sure that what we print is what you want. That’s the whole point of a proof. There is no use proof-reading the job after it’s delivered as that just creates angst for us all. And the most important tip I can give in this regard? Don’t proof-read on a mobile phone; it’s just way too small to view it properly.


Paper Options

Probably the next most vexed issue is that of paper. If you don’t want to print on “ordinary” paper talk to us about what else we have, or can get for you. We carry a wide range of stocks and have many more thousands of stocks available to us. We prefer to know the pedigree of the papers we put through our expensive machines. If you particularly want to buy stock from another source please at least get the details of the stock so we can check its compatibility with our presses.

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