1. What resolution should my files be?
Images intended for print should be 150dpi or higher. If you find an image online and copy and paste it into your document, it will appear blurry. This is because images used online are a much lower resolution in order to speed up loading times, and they will appear clear on screens.
2. What is the difference between digital and offset printing?
In digital printing, prints are made directly from a computer file; there are no plates. Digital is fast and cost-effective for short-run jobs, i.e. up to a quantity of 250 or 500. In offset printing, the file to be printed is first transferred to printing plates that create the document imprint on a press. Offset is best suited for high quality, high volume printing and for pieces that have large image areas of solid ink coverage.
3. What kind of files should I send?
Send PDF's with embedded or outlined fonts. PDF's are easier to handle and will speed up your turn-around. When you send a Word document or native files, it's likely that your fonts will be missing and your design or text will shift.
You can make PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro, try these free alternatives:
LibreOffice (Also a free alternative to all Microsoft Suite programs): LibreOffice.org
PDF Forge: pdfforge.org
PDF Lite: pdflite.com
4. What color mode should my file be in?
RGB color mode is meant for screen viewing, not print. All documents intended for print should be designed from start to finish in CMYK color mode.
5. How do I set up bleed and crop marks?
When the image is required to extend all the way to the edge, bleed is needed to preserve the finished look and the quality of the final product. Bleed must extend past the cut-line and will be trimmed from the product during the final cutting phase. Please keep all text at least 0.125" inside the cut-line. In the image below you can see this explained visually.
If you need help setting up bleed and crop marks, we provide templates for common sized items that you can download as a PDF or EPS files.
6. I don't have Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, and they are too expensive. Are there any free or cheaper alternatives?
There are some great free/cheap alternatives to these programs.
GIMP (Free): GIMP.com
Paint (Free, Windows only): getpaint.net
Pixlr (Free): Pixler.com
Inkscape (Free): Inkscape.org
DrawPlus X6 (MAC only, available free or paid with more options): http://www.serif.com/free-graphic-design-software/
Sketch (MAC only, $99.99): http://www.bohemiancoding.com/sketch/