How to Set Up a File For Print

How to Set Up a File For Print

Want to make your designs print ready? At Helloprint we want to make printing easy for you, that’s why we are going to explain how to make a file print ready.

Setting up your file correctly before creating your print design ensures quality printing, regardless of the design program used. Below is a quick and easy guide on how to set up a file for print:

The Right File Size

The first step in setting up your file is indicating the exact measurements of your print products. While some print shops or online printers can do the resizing of your artwork for you, it makes more sense to give the correct file size from the get-go. This way, there won’t be any confusion or possible changes to your design.

Extra, Extra

The next step is creating a printing bleed around your document. The bleed is an extra space that extends beyond the trim line of your printed piece.

While new technology has made it easier to cut products more accurately, there is still the possibility that the machine cuts beyond the trim line. If your artwork has no bleed, you may have a thin white space around the cut edge.

Small products need at least a 3 mm bleed. Larger products such as banners and panels, on the other hand, need a 5 mm bleed or more.

Safety First

While it’s possible for the cutting machine to cut beyond the trim line, it’s also possible for it to cut within the trim line. Create a 5 mm margin for small print products like flyers and brochures and a 50 mm margin for large products. Keep important details within the margins to prevent them from being cut.

Note: For booklets, the margins near the spine should be bigger compared to the margins at the top, bottom and outside. This way, the content can still be clearly read when the pages of the booklet are bound.


Printing files set to RGB colour mode can have entirely different colours when printed. The reason being that printers use CMYK or four colour process for printing. CMYK stands for the four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Your design document’s colour print setup needs to be CMYK right from the start. That way you will have a better idea of how your colours are going to print.

Crisp and Clear

Make sure you use high-resolution visuals to produce prints with crisp and clear images. Small products need visuals with at least 300 dpi resolution. Large print products need around 72 to 150 dpi resolution.

The Final Product

It is best to export your document as a PDF file since it is a universal file format that can be read by all computers. PDF file format also preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any design.

While printers prefer a PDF file format, they accept other formats as well. Some of the acceptable file formats include AI (Illustrator file), PSD (Photoshop file), or even INDD (packaged InDesign file). Printers also accept JPG or PNG file formats.

If you’re working with Photoshop or Illustrator, here are the things to keep in mind for the file’s print set up:

  • Fonts. Convert all your text into vector drawings (for Illustrator) or objects (Photoshop). This is to preserve the size, shape, form, and colour of the document’s font. Some computers or programs replace the font in your file, if they do not recognize it.
  • Images. Embed any linked images you used in your document. Linked images will not show up in other computers since the computer does not contain the original file it is linked to. Embedding the image means that a copy of the artwork will be saved within the file.

A proper file set up ensures consistently stunning prints. What are you waiting for? Design your own print products now!