Online printing offers an ordering process that is straightforward and easy: you choose the print products, select the size and quantity you require and then upload or email your print files. Thanks to fast delivery options, you can receive your high quality prints at competitive prices from Chilliprinting with minimal waiting time.
To ensure a smooth process and avoid delays, back-and-forth or additional costs, it is crucial that you set up your printing data correctly. Going to print requires print files that follow certain standards and specifications. Some of these are nearly universal among printers, others can vary slightly from online printer to online printer. In the following guide, we will cover both general advice for print files as well as specific instructions on how to set up your printing data for Chilliprinting. To guarantee that what you or your designer have produced on screen will look great in print on paper, follow our best practises on how to prepare your print files.
Start at the beginning: if you keep these tips in mind when you first set up your print design and layout, you can avoid having to spend time on necessary changes later on. Also remember that your online printer is a partner who has to fit your needs, but in turn you need to follow their advice and instructions on print file specifications.
Follow your online printer’s instructions on file formats. Open formats such as Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop are typically not accepted as they can cause a wide array of problems. For some printers and products, it is possible to send uncompressed TIFF files or JPEG images. When working with JPEGs, use the highest quality setting. If you must compromise quality and file size, do not use a compression level below 8. The most versatile file format is PDF, since it can contain several pages in one file and also handles details of your print job. Chilliprinting accepts PDF, JPEG and TIFF files for all products. In the template section of each product, you can download job options for Adobe Acrobat Distiller for exporting PDFs.
Your print files and any images used in your design need to have a high enough resolution. One of the most common mistakes regarding online printing is a print file with a low resolution, resulting in blurry or pixelated images. As a rule of thumb, print files should be set to 300 dpi (dots per inch).
Chilliprinting can accept posters with a lower resolution of no less than 150 dpi, as posters are generally viewed at some distance. Our offset printing machines use a 70 line raster, which results in a resolution of exactly 354 dpi. For best results, set your printing data between 300 and 354 dpi. A value higher than that will NOT improve results.
Offset printing and digital printing use the CMYK color space, whereas screens and devices use a variant of the RGB color space (also consult our guide to printing methods). At some point, a conversion of RGB elements to CMYK has to happen. When creating new files, you can set the color space to CMYK in Photoshop. Likewise, InDesign and Illustrator are set to work in CMYK. Set your files to the correct color space from the beginning. When converting from RGB, you can use the Gamut warning tool in Photoshop to highlight problematic colors. If a color is not recognizable within the CMYK color space, printers use the expression “out of gamut.”
The Chilliprinting PDF job options already include ICC profiles for color conversion, but you can also download ICC color profiles for coated and uncoated paper stock in template section of each product.
It’s just as important as colors to properly set up blacks for your printing files. If your design has black and white images, convert them to grayscale to avoid a sepia tint, because they will print with all colors otherwise. Among designers, opinions differ which black to use for certain elements. The reason for this is that layout software allows you use different blacks, such as RGB black, Photoshop black, registration black and many more. On screen, some of these will look deeper than others, but the results can vary in print. The reason for this is that some of these blacks use other colors to yield a richer result. This can cause problems with text elements: if there is a slight misalignment of the individual colors, letters appear blurry or shadowed.
Chilliprinting recommends that you use only the black process color (the K in CMYK) for black or gray elements, especially for text. If you absolutely have to achieve a deeper black other than 100% K, use C:40/M:0/Y:0/K:100 or C:30/M:30/Y:30/K:100.
In general, PostScript fonts are used for professional printing and TrueType fonts should be avoided. This is part of the reason why printers don’t accept open file formats: they simply cannot have all possible font combinations on their system. You can embed PostScript fonts in your PDF before you send your printing data to Chilliprinting. Another option is to convert fonts to paths (vectors, outlines, curves) in your software. This is the route you will have to go if you use any TrueType fonts. For TIFF and JPEG print files, fonts are not an issue since they are converted to pixel data.
For an explanation of document bleed (and other online printing terms), please also consult our Chilliprinting glossary. Bleed is necessary so that any design elements can extend right to the cutting edge or trim line. A print file consists of the final size (the print product after trimming, sometimes called trim box) and the bleed area (sometimes called bleed box), which extends the document size by a certain amount so elements can run off the edge.
Always set up bleed in your print file (InDesign has its own setting for that), and include the bleed when you export or save your print data. However, don’t include any copy marks as this makes it easier for printers. Different products might require different bleeds, but for most Chilliprinting products, 0.1 inches are sufficient.
Related to the bleed area is the live area. This is the area slightly smaller than the final size of your print product that is considered safe for any important elements, such as text. If you place important elements too close to the cutting edge, they might be cut off during trimming. Printers call this buffer area outside the safe zone a “quiet border.” Plan for a quiet border from the beginning and leave enough safe space. Chilliprinting recommends a safety margin of at least 0.08 inches.
Additionally, your print documents need to be set to the correct size. Make sure your files are 1:1 the size you want to print, whether you are printing posters, business cards, flyers or brochures. You can consult the file specifications for specific products and make use of the templates we offer for download on our website.
Now we will go into a little more detail on what you need to keep in mind when setting up printing data for specific print products.
Posters are a popular online printing product and Chilliprinting is able to offer quality offset poster printing at an incredibly competitive price.
Please also consult our blog post on 10 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Printing Posters In Bulk.
Our business cards are all double-sided products. If you want a single-sided card with an empty back, place an order for the the corresponding double-sided option and upload a PDF with a white (empty) second page. In general, if you provide us with a single-sided file only, our system will duplicate the first page and you will receive a product with an identical front and back.
Just like business cards, Chilliprinting postcard options are all double-sided. If you want a single-sided card with an empty back, place an order for the the corresponding double-sided option and upload a PDF with a white (empty) second page. In general, if you provide us with a single-sided file only, our system will duplicate the first page and you will receive a product with an identical front and back. If you wish to print in color on the front and only black on the reverse side (4/1), please ensure that the back uses the correct black (100% K – see above guidelines on blacks).
Chilliprinting offers you affordable options for double-sided flyers. For a single-sided product, order the size you need and upload a PDF with a white (empty) second page. In general, if you provide us with a single-sided file only, our system will duplicate the first page and you will receive a product with an identical front and back. For flyers, make use of our tips on How to Use Flyers and Stickers to Effectively Promote Your Business.
Chilliprinting brochures are simple folded flyers. Because of the different folding options and open and closed formats, it is important that you properly set the front and back (or inner and outer) side of your brochure.
With these above guidelines, you are able to prepare print files like a pro for popular products. Keep in mind that you can always see required specifications for individual products on our pages under File Specs. Before uploading or sending your print data, always run a pre-print check. Printers call this “pre-flighting” and InDesign has a Pre-Flight option which will bring up any issues, such as RGB colors used or font problems. After uploading your print files, the Chilliprinting system is running an automated preflight data check to your print files. Afterwards, you will receive a notification about serious, minor or no relevant errors.
Ready to order high quality print products at amazing prices from Chilliprinting? Check out our great offers for bulk poster printing and other products or watch a step by step video guide on our order process!
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