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Part 2: Print Ready Checklist

Download-Folder-Design-Cheat-SheetGo To Part 1: Important Folder Tips

Prepping your artwork for printing might seem like a daunting task. Not to worry—this handy checklist will help cover all the steps you should take before sending us your finalized artwork files.

File Setup

  • Design in the “Your Art Here” layer of our template. >>>
  • Delete the “Instructions” layer prior to submitting artwork.>>>
  • Do NOT delete or move “Template” layer.>>>
  • Separate each spot coated, foil stamped, embossed, or debossed area into its own labeled, color-coded layer. >>>
  • Save file as: .AI, .EPS, .PDF, .PSD, .INDD, or .TIF.>>>

Layout

  • Avoid placing logos or text near or on die-cut slits.>>>
  • Keep important elements within 1/8” safe zone. >>>
  • Extend elements touching the cut line to the 1/8” bleed zone edge for PMS or four color process (CMYK) designs.>>>

Photo Images

  • Make raster images 300 DPI and at least equal to the size at which they will be printed to avoid pixelation. >>>
  • Embed images, or package them with the primary artwork file. >>>
  • Save images as .PSD, .TIF, or .JPG. >>>

Writing

  • Proofread all copy for grammar, spelling, and clarity. >>>
  • Convert fonts to outlines, or gather fonts using “Package” (Illustrator) or “Collect for Output” (InDesign). Send with art file.>>>
  • Include fonts if your final print file is in .PSD format.>>>

Four Color Process

  • Set design file and all images to CMYK mode. >>>
  • Convert all colors to CMYK mode. >>>

PMS Printing

  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.>>>
  • Verify all colors are PMS (spot) colors. >>>

Foil Stamping

  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.>>>
  • Make elements at least 1pt thick, spaced 1pt or more apart. >>>
  • Do not place elements on fold or cut lines. >>>
  • Separate each foil color onto its own labeled, color-coded layer.>>>
  • Apply a spot color at 100% to represent each foil color. (100% Magenta for first color, 100% Yellow for second, etc.) >>>

Embossing and Debossing

  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.>>>
  • Make elements at least 1.5pt thick, spaced 1.5pt or more apart. >>>
  • Do not place elements on fold or cut lines. >>>
  • Separate each emboss or deboss onto its own labeled, color-coded layer when combining imprint methods.>>>
  • Apply a spot color at 100% to represent each emboss or deboss. (100% Magenta for first area, 100% Yellow for second, etc.)>>>



Important Folder Tips

File Setup
  • Design in the “Your Art Here” layer of our template.
    Download our template to construct your folder design. Make sure you don’t flatten the image or place design elements directly on the template layer.
  • Delete the “Instructions” layer prior to submitting artwork.
    The “Instructions” layer must be deleted prior to submission to prevent the instructions from being printed as part of your design. Click the “Instructions” layer, then click the trash can icon at the bottom of the layers palette. Select “Yes” in the confirmation window and the layer will be removed.
  • Do NOT delete or move “Template” layer.
    The “Template” layer is used to register your artwork to the die cut. Moving or deleting this layer will cause your artwork to misalign when being cut.
  • Separate each spot coated, foil stamped, embossed, or debossed area into its own labeled, color-coded layer.
    Each of these imprint areas should be on a separate layer with a clear and specific label. Apply a spot color at 100% to represent each imprint area, such as 100% Magenta for the first area, 100% Yellow for second, etc. This helps us identify the different imprint methods you’ve selected.
  • Save file as: .AI, .EPS, .PDF, .PSD, .INDD, or .TIF.
    These file formats are the most universal and the ones we are most able to work with.

    • .AI is Adobe Illustrator’s proprietary format, so you’ll most likely use this file type if you’re working in Illustrator.
    • .EPS uses PostScript language to save vector-based files. .EPS files can be created using almost any design program.
    • .PDF is a platform independent format and is viewable in Acrobat or other software. These files can also be created using almost any design program.
    • .PSD is Adobe Photoshop’s proprietary format, so if you’re working with Photoshop, you’ll want to save your file as a .PSD
    • .INDD is Adobe InDesign’s proprietary format, so you’ll most likely save InDesign files in this format.
    • .TIF files are designed for saving high-quality graphics and can be created using almost any design program.
Layout
  • Avoid placing logos or text near or on die-cut slits.
    Important elements should be carefully placed so nothing accidentally gets cropped off. A die-cut slit that intersects with your logo or text can interfere with its legibility.
  • Keep important elements within 1/8” safe zone.
    Just like important sports events happen on the athletic field, your design should fit inside certain boundaries. Anything “out” of the safe zone may get lost when your folder is die-cut. Keeping elements inside the safe zone ensures that your design stays intact through the printing process.
  • Extend elements touching the cut line to the 1/8” bleed zone edge for PMS or four color process (CMYK) designs.
    A 1/8″ bleed zone will compensate for the small mechanical variations that occur on the printing press and in the trimming process. These variations may result in small white areas around the edges of your design, unless you have a bleed zone to compensate for mechanical variation and ensure the design prints to the edge of the product.
Photo Images
  • Make raster images 300 DPI and at least equal to the size at which they will be printed to avoid pixelation.
    When images are constantly being stretched and resized during the design process, it can result in an unappealing grainy look called pixelation. Setting images to the correct resolution (300 DPI) and size will keep them clear and high quality. To check resolution in Photoshop, click “Image,“ then “Image Size.” In the “Image Size” window, you can switch the dimension units to “inches” to get a better idea of how large the image will be when it’s printed.
  • Embed images, or package them with the primary artwork file.
    Send all necessary artwork for your design by embedding images in your design program or packaging them in a zip file along with the design file. To embed an image in Illustrator or InDesign, click “Window,” then “Links.” Select the link to the artwork you wish to embed, click the icon in the upper right corner of the “Links” window, and click “Embed Image.” Once the layer has been embedded, the original name of the file will disappear from the window; you’ll see a small icon in its place. In Photoshop, right click the image layer’s name, and select “Embed Linked” from the resulting pop-up menu.
  • Save images as .PSD, .TIF, or .JPG.
    These file formats are the most universal and the ones we are most able to work with.

    • .PSD is Adobe Photoshop’s proprietary format, so if you’re working with Photoshop, you’ll want to save your file as a .PSD
    • .TIF files are designed for saving high-quality graphics and can be created using almost any design program.
    • .JPG works best for compressing large files into a manageable file size.
Writing
  • Proofread all copy for grammar, spelling, and clarity.
    Double and triple check your product’s text for any awkward wording, typos, or missing information. Be especially sure to check logos, section headings, and contact information, as these are the most viewed areas of text.
  • Convert fonts to outlines, or gather fonts using “Package” in Illustrator and InDesign. Send with art file.
    Converting fonts to outlines lets us work with your design, even if we don’t have the same fonts as you. Simply click “File,” then “Package” to select the appropriate settings.
  • Include fonts if your final print file is in .PSD format.
    Unlike Illustrator or InDesign, Photoshop only packages linked images, not fonts. For best results, gather any font files used in your Photoshop document and include them with your design file in a .zip folder.
Four Color Process
  • Set design file and all images to CMYK mode.
    Printing in four color process requires the design file and images to be in CMYK mode; otherwise, colors won’t print accurately. To convert to CMYK mode in Photoshop, click “Image,” then “Mode.” The box labeled “CMYK Color” should be checked. In Illustrator, click “File,” then “Document Color Mode.” The “CMYK Color” box here should be checked.
  • Convert all colors to CMYK mode.
    As with images, all other elements need to be in CMYK mode when printing in four color process. In Photoshop, click on “Window” then click “Channels.” Make sure the colors of the channels are listed as “CMYK.” In Illustrator, click “Window,” then “Swatches.” Be sure each “Color Type” is set to “Process Color.” You can also double-click your color swatches to see more details.
PMS Printing
  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.
    We recommend using vector graphics for PMS printing. Vector graphics are easier to assign PMS (spot) colors and can easily be edited by non-designers. PMS printing in other formats is possible, but it requires specialized imaging experience and very specific pre-press file set-up.
  • Verify all colors are PMS (spot) colors.
    Just like four color process requires CMYK colors, PMS printing requires Pantone (spot) colors in order to achieve accurate colors when printing the design. In Photoshop, double-click on each layer to view its “Layer Style” window. Click “Color Overlay,” then click the colored square. A window will appear and let you see if the layer is set to Pantone. In Illustrator, click “Window,” then “Swatches.” Be sure each color has a Pantone setting. You can also double-click your color swatches to see more details.
Foil Stamping
  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.
    Foil stamping cannot produce color gradations or photos because the details are too small. You’ll need to use vector images that meet the width and spacing requirements below.
  • Make elements at least 1pt thick, spaced 1pt or more apart.
    Due to the nature of foil stamping, fine details may not show up well. This includes very thin lettering or tightly spaced design elements. Elements 1pt or thicker are most likely to show up accurately. Likewise, leaving at least 1pt space between elements prevents them from bleeding together or becoming illegible.
  • Do not place elements on fold or cut lines.
    Placing foil stamped elements on score lines can cause the foil to peel, damaging the design.
  • Separate each foil color onto its own labeled, color-coded layer.
    Putting each foil color a separate layer helps avoid confusion and ensures that your design looks exactly the way you want it to.
  • Apply a spot color at 100% to represent each foil color. (100% Magenta for first color, 100% Yellow for second, etc.)
    Using these bright colors to mark each foil color is another way of ensuring that there are no mix-ups when it comes time to print the design. If you want, you can even correspond the spot color to the color of the foil. For instance, 100% Yellow could represent gold foil, while 100% Cyan could represent silver.
Embossing and Debossing
  • Make sure all graphics are vector format.
    Embossing and debossing cannot produce color gradations or photos because the details are too small. You’ll need to use vector images that meet the width and spacing requirements below.
  • Make elements at least 1.5pt thick, spaced 1.5pt or more apart.
    Due to the nature of embossing and debossing, fine details may not show up well. This includes very thin lettering or tightly spaced design elements. Elements 1.5pt or thicker are most likely to show up accurately. Likewise, leaving at least 1.5pt space between elements prevents them from bleeding together or becoming illegible.
  • Do not place elements on fold or cut lines.
    Because embossing and debossing alter the shape of the stock, doing so along a score line can inhibit the product’s ability to fold and can obstruct the audience’s view of the design.
  • Separate each emboss or deboss onto its own labeled, color-coded layer when combining imprint methods.
    Placing each emboss or deboss on a separate layer helps avoid confusion and keeps these areas from being lost in the shuffle when using multiple imprint methods.
  • Apply a spot color at 100% to represent each emboss or deboss. (100% Magenta for first color, 100% Yellow for second, etc.)
    Using these bright colors to mark each emboss or deboss is another way of ensuring that there are no mix-ups when it comes time to print the design.