10 Top tips to make sure your artwork is print ready!

Posted on : 04/09/2019

As specialists in time-critical quality print, we understand the importance of getting your print to you quickly while maintaining our highest production quality. 

We know that even the best designers break out in a cold sweat when 'it's time to send their projects out to print. There are a ton of checklists and details to keep in mind when it comes to getting your project ready for commercial printing. However, this guide will give you the top technical tips, best practices and walk you through how to take a project from your computer to the printing press.


1. Plan for Perfect Colour Printing 

One of the most common issues we come across as commercial printer is when clients send graphic files that are in the wrong colour space. Here's what you need to remember about colour before you submit your file to your printer.


Your computer uses a colour space called RGB which produces the colours you see on your screen. A printing press uses a colour space called CMYK to produce similar colours using just four colours of ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, also known as a 4 Colour Process. When you send your files to a commercial printer, they must be sent in the CYMK colour format or your images and colours will look washed out and muddy. – This is such an important topic we will be releasing another blog in the coming months, which goes deeper into this subject. 

2. Document Size

When setting up your document on Adobe, make sure to set your page size to the size you want the final product to be.

3. Safe Area

'It's a great idea to create a ''safe area'' or margin around the edge of your artwork, ensuring that you do not place any vital information or text outside this perimeter. This way, nothing is missed off or lost in the production or trimming process.

4. Images

To maintain the best quality, ensure your images are 300dpi at 100% and convert all RGB imagery to CMYK. Additionally, if you are using logos, ensure these are in vector format for the best print results. 

5. PANTONE Spot Colours


Spot colours are the preferred choice for creating ab accurate colour reproduction for consistency across jobs. Spot colours can be referenced using the tradition Pantone Matching books for printing or by using a PANTONE Capsure measuring Device. Think of it as a colour that has been specially mixed up and used as an ink in its own right. The benefit of a spot colour is that it gives a stronger, cleaner and purer colour than CMYK. It is also better for specific colours that can prove challenging to print using CMYK such as strong, bright orange or gold.

6. Crop marks

Make sure to save out your artwork with crop marks because they let finishers know where to trim the document. *You can add crop marks when saving your PDF in InDesign, Illustrator and Adobe Acrobat.

7. Cutter guides

If 'you're setting up a file that is not a standard print size, e.g. a hexagon-shaped flyer, you will need to set up a cutter guide. The most efficient way to do this is to set up a new layer on your artwork file and create the shape you require in a vectored line; the colour of this line needs to be set to a spot colour. Ideally, you will need to supply the cutter guide as a separate PDF to the artwork, by exporting this layer to PDF separately.

8. Bleed

Ensure you have a 3mm bleed minimum as this make sure 'you're not left with a white edge when trimmed. This is where the artwork extends 3mm over the document size. And can often be setup in your document settings. 

9. File formats and print ready PDF archiving 

Remember to keep the native file of your document (e.g. packaged InDesign or Illustrator files), so you can update the document if you need to at a later date. 

10. The must do ''Print Ready PDF List'':

We have created this quick reference card for you to use as your very own must do ''Print Ready PDF List''. We hope it's helpful.

Print Ready PDF List-2


Lastly, below we have placed a set of terms you may hear our print team use. We thought they could may be good to familiarise yourself with:

Bleed - ''Bleed''. Refers to the printing that goes beyond the edge of the page and is used to ensure coverage goes right to the edge after trimming.

PDF - ''Portable Document Format''. Probably the most common file format for exchanging artwork and printing from.

DPI / PPI -''Dots Per Inch / Pixels Per Inch''. They essentially mean the same thing, though dots refer to print, and pixels refer to on-screen. DPI is the number of individual dots of ink within an inch square. The more dots, the higher the resolution. Same applies for PPI.

PANTONE - ''Pantone''. Possibly the most common colour system used. It has a large library of colours that can be matched to a swatch book so long as the printer has the correct swatch.

Process - ''Process''. Refers to the four colours used in CMYK printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). A colour in a process will be made up using these or a combination.

If you have any further questions about getting your artwork print-ready? Please 'don't hesitate to get in touch with us via our social media or enquiries@printforms.co.uk - we'd be happy to help.