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Part 2: Print Ready Checklist

Folder Design Cheat SheetGo To Part 1: Important Folder Tips

Getting your artwork ready to be printed might seem like a daunting task. Not to fear; this handy checklist will help guide you through all of the steps you should take before sending us your finalized artwork files.

File Setup

  • Edit design using: InDesign, QuarkXPress, Illustrator or Photoshop. >>>
  • Save as .psd, .ai, .eps, or .pdf. >>>
  • Design in the template your printer provides and keep it on a separate layer. >>>
  • Separate spot coated, foil stamped and embossed imprint areas into individually labeled layers and highlight each with distinctive color. >>>

Layout

  • Avoid placing logos or text near or through die-cut slit areas. >>>
  • Keep elements within 1/8” safe zone. >>>

Photos and Images

  • Set all raster photos and images to 300 dpi or more. >>>
  • Set all scanned bitmap images to 1200 dpi or more. >>>
  • Embed all images or package them along with your primary artwork file. >>>

Writing

  • Proofread all copy elements for grammar, spelling and clarity. >>>
  • Convert fonts to outlines when using Illustrator or InDesign. Do not rasterize fonts when using Photoshop. >>>

4-Color Process

  • Set design file and all images to CMYK mode. >>>
  • Make sure PMS colors are converted to CMYK. >>>
  • Add 1/8” bleed area. >>>

PMS Printing

  • Verify that EVERY color is a PMS color. >>>
  • Add 1/8” bleed area. >>>

Foil Stamping

  • Make all elements at least 1.5 pt thick. >>>
  • Leave at least 1.5 pt space between elements. >>>
  • Do not place elements on score. >>>
  • Apply a distinct color to represent each foil color. >>>

Embossing and Debossing

  • Make all elements at least 1.5 pt thick. >>>
  • Leave at least 1.5 pt space between elements. >>>
  • Keep elements 1/2” or more away from the edge. >>>
  • Do not place elements on score. >>>

Important Folder Tips

File Setup
  • Edit design using: InDesign, QuarkXPress, Illustrator or Photoshop.
    Make sure you create your design using one of these compatible programs. InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are manufactured by Adobe. QuarkXPress is available from Quark.
  • Save as .psd, .ai, .eps, or .pdf.
    These are the most “universal” formats that your commercial printer is most likely able to work with.

    • PSD is Adobe Photoshop’s proprietary format, so it’s the format you’ll most likely be dealing with if you’re using Photoshop.
    • AI fulfills a similar role for Adobe Illustrator.
    • EPS is a format for vector-based files using PostScript language. These files can be created using any of the programs listed above.
    • PDF is a sharable format that can be viewed using Acrobat or other software. These files can be created using any of the programs listed above.
  • Design in the template your printer provides and keep it on a separate layer.
    Download your printer’s template and use it to construct your folder design. Make sure you don’t “flatten the image” or place design elements directly on the template layer.
  • Separate spot coated, foil stamped and embossed imprint areas into individually labeled layers and highlight each with distinctive color.
    Each area that you intend to imprint with one of these methods should be on a separate layer with a clear and specific label. Be sure to fill each area with a unique color (such as pink or bright green) so that your printer can easily identify them.
Layout
  • Avoid placing logos or text near or through die-cut slit areas.
    Don’t place important elements carelessly. A die-cut slit that intersects with your logo or text can interfere with its legibility.
  • Keep elements within 1/8” safe zone.
    Anything outside of the safe zone has a chance to be lost when your folder is die-cut. Make sure you don’t place any important text or images outside of the “safety line” on your printer’s template.
Photos and Images
  • Set all raster photos and images to 300 dpi or more.
    Make sure you set the correct resolution whenever you create your design from scratch; this ensures the design will end up looking clear and high-quality (rather than blurry or pixilated). In Photoshop, you can check the resolution of your design by clicking “Image” and then “Image Size.” You should ensure that the image is at least 300 dpi at the dimensions it will print; in the “Image Size” window, you can switch the dimension units to “inches” to get a better idea of how large the finished product will be.
  • Set all scanned bitmap images to 1200 dpi or more.
    If you’re scanning photos or other printed images to create your design, make sure that your scanner is set to at least 1200 dpi. The exact procedure here may vary depending on your equipment; consult your scanner’s manual if you need more information.
  • Embed all images or package them along with your primary artwork file.
    Make sure you’re sending the printer all of the necessary artwork for your design. Either embed images using your design program or package them in a zip file along with the file you send to the printer. In Illustrator, click Window and then Links to open the Links tab. Click the artwork you need embedded, click the icon in the upper right corner of the window, and then click “Embed Image.” Once the layer has been embedded, the original name of the file will disappear from the window and you’ll see a small icon in its place.
Writing
  • Proofread all copy elements for grammar, spelling and clarity.
    Double-check for any typos, errors or awkwardly worded bits of text in your folder design.
  • Convert fonts to outlines when using Illustrator or InDesign. Do not rasterize fonts when using Photoshop.
    Converting fonts to outlines ensures that the printer will be able to work with your design even if they don’t have the same fonts as you. In Illustrator or InDesign, click Select and then Select All. Next, click “Type” and “Create Outlines.” Your type should now be surrounded with editable paths; this means it has been successfully converted to outlines. Rather than rasterize fonts in Photoshop, package the actual font files in a ZIP and send them to your printer along with your artwork.
4-Color Process
  • Set design file and all images to CMYK mode.
    This is the standard setting for 4-color designs and it’s necessary to print your artwork properly.
    In Photoshop, click Image, move down to Mode, and ensure that “CMYK Color” is checked.
    In Illustrator, click File, move down to Document Color Mode, and make sure that “CMYK Color” is checked.
  • Make sure PMS colors are converted to CMYK.
    In Photoshop, double-click on each layer to view its Layer Style window. Click Color Overlay and then click the colored square. If you’re printing in CMYK, you should see a window here containing CMYK values. In Illustrator, click Window and then Swatches. You can double-click your color swatches to see more details. For 4-color printing, ensure that each color type is set to “Process Color.”
  • Add 1/8” bleed area.
    Make sure that any images or artwork that you intend to have printed all the way to the edge of your folder extend at least 1/8” beyond the edge of the template (or fill the designated bleed area specified on the template). This way, you’ll avoid any unsightly unprinted areas when the stock is die-cut.
PMS Printing
  • Verify that EVERY color is a PMS color.
    Any non-PMS colors in your artwork file won’t print properly when using this imprint method.

    • In Photoshop, double-click on each layer to view its Layer Style window. Click Color Overlay and then click the colored square. The window that appears will allow you to see if the layer has a Pantone setting.
    • In Illustrator, click Window and then Swatches. You can double-click your color swatches to see more details. For PMS printing, ensure that each color type has a Pantone setting.
  • Add 1/8” bleed area.
    Make sure that any images or artwork that you intend to have printed all the way to the edge of your folder extend at least 1/8” beyond the edge of the template (or fill the designated bleed area specified on the template). This way, you’ll avoid any unsightly unprinted areas when the stock is die-cut.
Foil Stamping
  • Make all elements at least 1.5 pt thick.
    This imprint method does not work well with very fine detail; very thin lettering or other images may not be accurately reproduced. For that reason, it’s best to work with elements 1.5 pt thick or larger.
  • Leave at least 1.5 pt space between elements.
    Without proper space between foil stamped areas, they may bleed together and become illegible or unrecognizable. Just as each element should be 1.5 pt thick or greater, spaces between foil areas should be at least 1.5 pt thick.
  • Do not place elements on score.
    Foil stamped elements cannot be positioned on your folder score because it will cause unsightly peeling.
  • Apply a distinct color to represent each foil color.
    Each foil stamped area in your design should be filled with a color that corresponds with the color of the foil. For example, the areas you intend to have foil stamped with metallic blue foil might be filled with a bright green color in your artwork file, while red non-metallic foil could be represented by pink.
Embossing and Debossing
  • Make all elements at least 1.5 pt thick.
    This imprint method does not work well with very fine detail; very thin lettering or other images may not be accurately reproduced. For that reason, it’s best to work with elements 1.5 pt thick or larger.
  • Leave at least 1.5 pt space between elements.
    Without proper space between embossed areas, they may bleed together and become illegible or unrecognizable. Just as each element should be 1.5 pt thick or greater, spaces between embossed areas should be at least 1.5 pt thick.
  • Keep elements 1/2” or more away from the edge.
    The edge of your folder should not contain embossed areas because they are extremely easy to tear. Be sure to keep all embossing within this “safe zone” away from your folder’s edge.
  • Do not place elements on score.
    Embossed areas do not belong on your folder’s score; altering the shape of the stock along the score will interfere with the folder’s ability to be neatly folded.