Commercial Output Standards

The preferred file format is PDF but, we also support and accept Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Microsoft Publisher and Office (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel).

The following application files must be provided using file collection utilities within the applications for preparation for a commercial printer:

  • Publisher ............................. “Pack & Go”
  • InDesign .............................. “Package"

These file collection utilities gather all fonts and images in your document so that when the file is opened for printing, all of the document components are present.

  • If the application you are working in does not provide a utility for preparing the file for commercial printing such as Illustrator,all work must be converted to outlines or curves and flattened.

  • All graphic images should be provided as TIFF or EPS files.Other file formats may require conversion at an additional cost.

  • Full color images and photos must be prepared in CMYK color mode (not RGB) in your document settings.Spot colors should be identified as Pantone colors. Microsoft Office applications use RGB color mode as the default, but will be printed in CMYK colors. We cannot guarantee perfect or exact color match when printed if your file was created using RGB colors.

  • A hard copy sample of the document to be output is required so we will know what the document should look like. This ensures that all fonts and graphics are printed properly.

Some files may require special pre-press preparation in order for them to print properly and thus may accrue additional charges. Our staff is available to assist you in preparing your files properly so we can meet your time, quality, and budget needs.

Submitting Files

PDF files are the best way to submit your artwork for print. When a file is saved or exported as a PDF, it ensures that licensed fonts and linked images will be embedded in the document. This eliminates the most common problems of fonts not translating properly or images not appearing in the document.

While Copico prefers that our clients submit artwork as PDF files, we understand that not all programs have the capability to save or export as PDF. There are alternative file formats that will allow us to print your document with little to no issues. Saving as TIFF and EPS files will allow you to submit your document for print without having to worry about font and image issues. Like PDFs, theses file formats embed your fonts and images into the document.

Properly Setting Up Files

When creating your document through any vector art program such as Adobe Illustrator, it is always best to convert your text to curves or “create outlines” once you are ready to submit your file for print. This will help to avoid font translation errors and ensure that your font will appear exactly as you see it on your computer screen. To convert your document to outlines or “flatten” your file in Adobe Illustrator, you would do the following:

  1. Go to “Select” on your toolbar menu and click “All” to select all the elements in your document.
  2. With everything still selected, go to “Object” on the toolbar menu and click “Flatten Transparency.”
  3. Under “Presets” scroll down to the “High Resolution” setting, making sure that the “Convert all text and strokes to outlines” option boxes are checked.

Once your document is flattened and saved, you cannot make any changes to the file. Therefore, you should save a “working” version of your file separate from the file you have prepared or “flattened” for commercial printing.

We recommend a ¼” margin around the perimeter of the page, essentially a ¼” area of blank space before the edges of the page. This ensures that none of your text or images are lost off the side of the page when printing since commercial printers are not capable of printing to the very edge of the page.

At some stage in the design process, your images must be converted from RGB color to CMYK. Unfortunately, not all colors in the RGB spectrum can be replicated in CMYK. When converting from RGB to CMYK mode, software programs get as close to original colors as possible. If you convert your document to CMYK prior to sending it to us you will have more control over the appearance of your printed piece, as you will be able to see how the document’s colors look after conversion. If necessary, you can adjust the image after conversion to more closely achieve the desired color.

Sizing Digital Images

Graphics that are created by a paint program, a scanning program, or a digital camera are made up of a grid of differently colored squares called pixels, which is short for “picture elements.” The more pixels a graphic has, the more detail it shows and the higher the quality of the print out. The resolution of a picture is expressed in pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi). Every picture has a certain number of pixels. When you scale a picture in Publisher, for example, you are not changing its total number of pixels, you are changing its resolution (the number of pixels per inch). Scaling a picture larger decreases the resolution (fewer ppi) and decreases its clarity. Scaling a picture smaller increases the resolution (more ppi). If the picture resolution is too low, it will print blocky or “pixelated”, resulting in a poor quality and often distorted image. If the resolution is too high, the file size of the publication will be unnecessarily large and it will take longer to open, edit, save or print. Pictures with more than 1,000 ppi may not print at all. Color pictures should be 300 ppi. You can have a higher resolution—up to 800 ppi—but you should not have lower.

Setting Up Publisher Files

Make sure your publication pages are the correct size. Before you create your publication, you should decide what size you want the finished publication to be. Once you determine the page size you want, set it up in the Page Setup dialog box. * Note that in page setup and printing, page size and paper size are two different things:

  • Page size refers to the size of the finished page
  • Paper size refers to the size of the sheet of paper on which the publication will be printed.

If you want to print multiple copies or pages on a single sheet of paper, you can set the document up to do so in the Page Setup dialog box under “Change Copies Per Sheet.”

Note that any full-color clip art image will require full-color printing processes. Also, be aware of the resolution of the graphics you are using in your  publication - images taken from the web are always low resolution and will print poorly. Don’t forget to convert the graphics and the document’s color mode from RGB (which is the default color mode for Publisher and Microsoft applications) to CMYK.

To ensure that all the fonts and graphics used in your Publisher document transfer when you save the file to be taken to a commercial printer, you will need to use Publisher’s file collection utility “Pack and Go.” In order to do that, you will need to do the following:

  1. On the File drop-down menu, click “Pack and Go”
  2. Select “Take to a commercial printing service”
  3. Follow the Pack and Go wizard to save the file in an appropriate format

Be sure to save all of the files the Pack and Go wizard produces - it generally creates about 4 files, including an application called “Unpack.” You will need all of these files in order for the file to open and print correctly.