File Requirements and Guidelines

File Requirements
PrintFirm, Inc. accepts the following file types:
Accepted File Formats. PDF, TIF, JPG, AI, EPS, PSD, PNG
  • CMYK Color Mode:
    The CMYK color model involves a 4 color process including Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. PrintFirm, Inc. products are printed using the CMYK color mode.

    All artwork and images must be provided in CMYK color mode for all color side(s) and gray scale for the backside (if you choose 4/1).

    We Require RGB-to-CMYK Conversion of Your Images: You must convert all of the images from RGB to CMYK before sending them to us. When we receive RGB images, it is our policy to try and convert your RGB images to CMYK, without contacting you about the format of your submission. Please note that conversion to CMYK may cause colors to shift. During the CMYK conversion, we do our best to closely match the colors in your order. However, PrintFirm, Inc. in no way guarantees that the colors in your converted file will exactly match the colors of the images that you submitted to us in RGB format. We will not be responsible for any imperfections due to your images being sent to us in RGB format, as we require RGB-to-CMYK conversion of images.
    We require CMYK mode in all Full color jobs, we are not responsible for color conversion changes from Pantone and RGB colors to CMYK.
    You may use Pantone color only on 1 and 2 color jobs.

    Certain RGB colors when converted to CMYK become dark and dull like sample shown below
    RGB vs CMYK
  • Resolution:
    Artwork for most products must have a minimum of 300 DPI or higher. Large format products such as vinyl banners, roll up banners,  car door magnets, large format posters can be 150-200 DPI. 

    Raster graphics, such as TIF and JPG files must have a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Images with less than 300 DPI will reproduce poorly on the press, causing the image appear fuzzy and pixelated.

    When we receive low resolution images, it is our policy to try and convert all low resolution images of 200 DPI or greater to 300 DPI, without contacting you about the format of your submission. PrintFirm, Inc. will not be responsible for any imperfections due to submission of a low resolution image, as we require all artwork to have a minimum of 300 DPI resolution.

    You should not use any images from an Internet website, because the Internet displays images at 72 DPI, which is low resolution and may result in loss of quality. You should also not try to increase the resolution from a low resolution image to a higher one by increasing the DPI, because this too will create a loss of quality.

    72 dpi low resolution vs 300 dpi low resolution
  • 8 Bits/Channel vs. 16 Bits/ Channel
    files must be saved at 8 Bits/Channel.
  • Font Sizes and Weights

    The right font size depends on the type of print product as well as how big the printed piece will be. For smaller items, such as standard business cards, font size is very important. If the text is too small, it will be very hard to read. Sometimes a font will look legible on a large computer screen, but it will not be the same on the actual 2" x 3.5" cardstock. The minimum text size for business cards is 8pt; we recommend 8-12pt size fonts for contact information. For best results, print your business card in actual size on a piece of paper and review all text for readability.

    Font weights can also be a problem for printing. Thin typefaces usually do not translate well in ink. The same can be said for light font weights. There are some exceptions, but in general, we do not recommend light versions of fonts.  Choose regular or bold weights for maximum effect.

  • Outlined Fonts & Strokes:
    When submitting EPS or PDF files to us, you must convert your fonts and strokes into outlines. Outlining eliminates the need to send fonts along your files, while maintaining a nice, crisp typeface. Outlining fonts may also avoid any problems associated with Identity-H.

    Be sure to save your original file (with Live Fonts) separate and apart from the version you outlined for printing, because if you save over your original document with the outlined version you will no longer be able to edit the text.
  • Transparencies:
    We accept files with transparencies for printing. We recommend that you flatten all submitted transparencies in order to avoid any possible problems. If you do not flatten your transparency, we may flatten your transparency for you without contacting you about the format of your submission and advance your job to print. PrintFirm, Inc. is not responsible for the outcome of your transparency image.

    Transparencies are caused by shadows, glows and transparent objects created in a vector based platform such as Illustrator and InDesign. If a file containing transparency problems is printed the result will be a white box under the transparent object.

    File with Transparencies Issue with printing

    While we understand that using these effects can sometimes enhance the appearance of your design, the best way to avoid transparency problems is to not use the effects that cause them. However, if you choose to use a transparency, we recommend that you flatten your transparency. The following Instructions may also help you resolve any transparency problems.

    How to flatten transparency in Illustrator

    How to flatten transparency in InDesign
  • Overprint:

    When an object(s) is set to OVERPRINT, any object directly underneath it, will print on top of it. It is highly recommended to turn off OVERPRINTS that may be on any object(s) or text.

    effect of overprint setting
  • Rich Black:

    When you want an area of solid black within your document, use Rich Black, as represented by C:50% / M:50% / Y:10% / K:100%, because using 100% black (K) only and not a solid saturated black will result in a dull black.

    Rich Black for CMYK

    FOR SOLID BLACK TEXT: When you want your text to be solid black, use these percentages: C:0% / M:0% / Y:0% / K:100%, because using the the percentages for the Solid Black Background, immediately above, on text, will result in offsetting.
  • True Blue:
    The color blue consists of a color combination of Cyan and Magenta values. The higher the Magenta value, the higher the risk of your blues turning purple. To avoid your blues from turning purple we recommend the Magenta value be at least 35% lower that the Cyan value. For example: 100% Cyan and 100% Magenta equals Purple. Although this combination looks blue on your computer screen, it will print purple.

    Due to PrintFirm, Inc. 's employment of a printing method, called "Gang-Printing," PrintFirm, Inc. DOES NOT GUARANTEE the accuracy of its printing reproductions, particularly with respect to color variations.

    blue color comparison between screen and printing
  • Borders:
    Due to slight shifting that may occur during cutting, it is not recommended that you add a border, as we do not guarantee that your border will remain the same size after cutting. Particularly, when you add a border to a UV coated job, there may be slight slipping that may cause some shifting during cutting.

    Borders may shift in the printing and cutting process
  • Safety Zones:
    In order to prevent your image (text or picture) from being trimmed or cut off, the image must be 1/8 of an inch (0.125 in.) from the trim edge of your layout.

    Any images that are meant to extend into the edge of your design must extend into the bleed area.
  • Bleeds:

    What is Bleed?

    Bleed is a technical term for printing that extends to the edge of a page. For example, a business card is 3.5”x2", but we require a 1/8 in. (0.125 in.) bleed making the file 3.75x 2.25"

    All bleeds should be 1/8 of an inch (0.125 in.) all around. If your submitted files are missing a bleed, we will try to add the necessary bleed to your files, in order to correct the problem. PrintFirm, Inc. will not be responsible for any imperfections due to your submitted files missing a bleed, as we require print ready files.

    NOTE: Shifting of the blades may occur during the cutting process, which is why it is crucial that submitted files have bleed. If submitted file/s don’t have bleed, final printed piece will have white trimming around the edges.

    Bleed vs No bleed comparison

  • Links:
    It is recommended that you embed your linked files, rather than linking them directly to the document.

    If you do not wish to embed the linked files, you may choose to create a Press Quality PDF of your document instead.
  • Sending Files:
    We require you send one file per side. Files sent with both front and back on one page will not be accepted.
    separate front file and separate back file

    How do I setup a Foil Stamp job?
    We can only use one type of foil per order, for example, you can not order a Foil Stamp job with Gold foil on the front and Silver foil on the back. Foil job files are set up just like our Spot UV job files. You must provide a separate Foil mask file: black in the areas you want the foil and white in the areas you do not want the foil. All black areas should be solid 100% K with no other added colors. If you order a Foil Stamp job with Spot UV, you'll need to provide separate mask files for the Foil (foil mask) and UV (spot uv mask) , in which case you may be required to provide up to 6 files. Please keep in mind, however, that the Foil and UV coating can't overlap, both should be at least 1/16" apart to avoid foil peeling off. Also, avoid using small / fine text or lines for foil objects. For best results, please make sure that foil coverage is less than 50% of the entire print side. Also, be aware that there may be up to a 1/16" shift on the placement of the foil. Keep this in mind if you are trying to align foil with other printed artwork on the card.