How to prepare artwork

How to prepare artwork

Posted in: Hints & Tips,

 Preparing artwork image

Everything you need to know about supplying artwork files correctly.

Supplying PDF artwork - preferred method

We prefer all artwork to be supplied as high-resolution PDF format.

PDFs are rapidly becoming the standard file format for transmitting files for printing, but it is important to prepare your PDF file in the correct way. Ideally, your PDF should be created using an industry standard preset.
The standard we use is PDF/X-4:2008. Bleed and crop marks must be added – see below.

Correct preparation of PDF files

When creating a PDF in Acrobat Distiller, there are job options which must be set for commercial printing. These include default resolution, compression settings and font embedding. Platinum’s PDF settings and Job Options can be downloaded from our Downloads section.
If you are not using our settings, please ensure you choose high resolution. Compression settings for colour and greyscale should be downsampled to 300dpi with “auto compression” set on high. Bitmapped (monochrome: i.e. line art) images should be set at 1200dpi. Font embedding should be set to “embed all fonts.”

Bleed and crop marks

Jobs are printed on sheets of paper bigger than the final trimmed size, depending on the size of the job and the paper it’s printed on, multiple copies can be printed on the same sheet and trimmed down to their final size using a guillotine.
Bleed refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. As the paper can shift slightly during trimming failing to provide bleed can result in finished pieces showing a thin area of white on the edge.
Make sure there is 3mm bleed all round the PDF, i.e. save the PDF with 6mm added to each measurement (i.e. for A4 usually 210mm x 297mm, save as 216mm x 303mm). Crop marks should be included. If it is not saved in this format, we will not be able to use it as artwork and if there are any changes to the job, you may have to amend and re-supply the artwork.

CMYK not RGB please!

Please ensure that all embedded images are CMYK files please. RGB images may look good on your screen but final output to print is always in CMYK. You should be aware that files converted from RGB to CMYK may alter the colour composition significantly. PANTONE Colours (within 4 colour process print jobs) Please note that when using Pantone Colours within your document which is to be printed via 4 colour process, you must make sure that the colour breakdown (CMYK) is correct, as our workflow system will use the colour values within your file for colour conversion from spot to process. Colour values should be taken from the Pantone Colour Bridge EC Library to ensure correct reproduction to Pantone standards.

Pantone colours (within spot colour print jobs)

Please ensure that all spot colours within your job are clearly marked with their Pantone colour reference (ie. PANTONE 280C or PANTONE 032 U) and are set to ‘SPOT’ not ‘PROCESS.’

Specifying 'Cutter', 'Spot UV' or any other non-printable elements

Please ensure that all non printable elements within your artwork are set as ‘SPOT’ colours and named as follows:

  • CUTTER – Die cutting lines, when showing folder outlines or irregular cutting etc.
  • PERF – To show where a job is to be perforated
  • CREASE – To show where a job is to be creased
  • VARNISH – To indicate areas which are to be spot UV varnished
  • EMBOSS – To indicate which areas are to be blind embossed
  • FOIL – To indicate areas which are to be foil blocked

Microsoft Office files

If you are creating a PDF from a MS Publisher or Word file, care must be taken to ensure spot colours are created correctly in your original documents. Do not set to RGB colours. Please contact us for more information on 01423 881158.

Supplying native files
When supplying native files e.g. Quark Xpress, Adobe Indesign etc, please ensure all elements, document, images and fonts are in one folder and please compress using Stuffit or similar to .sit or zip files before sending.

Native file formats accepted

  • Press ready PDF – with fonts embedded, Ideally this should be PDF/X-4:2008 compliant
  • Quark Xpress (up to v8) – supply fonts and images, using ‘Collect for Output’ from the ‘File’ menu.
  • Adobe InDesign – supply fonts and images, using ‘Package’ from the ‘File’ menu.
  • Adobe Illustrator  – fonts converted to outlines and images > embedded or supplied separately
  • Adobe Photoshop  – layers flattened, at least 300 dpi, JPEG, TIFF or PSD
  • Macromedia Freehand (up to MX) – fonts converted to paths and images embedded or supplied separately
  • Corel Draw (up to v11) – fonts converted to Curves then export as Illustrator AI or PDF.

Different formats

If you wish to submit artwork created using a program not listed above we should be able to accommodate you but please call to discuss first – 01423 881158.

Supplying EPS or JPEG files

Any other file formats not listed above must be saved as an eps or jpeg. If there are any changes to the job, you may have to amend and re-submit the artwork as we will be unable to change it. Ensure file has bleed and crop marks and please confirm the final size of the artwork and supply a hard copy for reference.

Bleed and crop marks

All artwork must have 3mm bleed on each edge if you require the image to bleed off the edge of the paper. Crop marks should be included if artwork does not fill a whole page area (i.e. no bleed). They should be 5mm long, 3mm outside of the page area (3mm offset) and coloured in the colour ‘registration’ to ensure they appear on each colour separation. Please ensure that artwork is supplied at the correct finished size required. If this is not possible, please inform us to allow time for amending the artwork.

Artwork amendments or re-submission

Our prices include “pre-flight checking” your artwork and submitting a PDF proof for your approval. If we need to amend your artwork or you need to re-submit corrected files to us this is charged extra at £25.00 each time, which includes an additional PDF proof. More extensive amending or correcting is charged extra. Please contact us for more information.


Please do not supply imposed pages or “printers pairs”. Our workflow system includes imposition software to impose correctly for our printing processes. Please ensure your files are saved as single pages in page order.

If you are supplying a document with multiple pages, please try and make the front and back cover of the document a separate file, and supply as single pages in page order. Also, please remember to allow for “creep” we suggest you keep all text and copy at least 5mm away from the trimmed edge.


Include all fonts you have used in the file. Whilst we have an extensive font collection, there is no guarantee the version you have used matches ours. This can create problems with line lengths and spacing of the type.
Platinum Print Ltd. assumes all fonts supplied are licensed and takes no responsibility for embedded fonts.

Lineart and images

Scanned colour and greyscale images should be 300dpi at the final size in the document submitted for output.
Images should be submitted as TIFF, JPEG or EPS.
Lineart (bitmapped) should be 600-1200dpi at the final size in the document submitted for output.


Screen tints may range from 99% down to 1%. From a practical viewpoint, anything above 90% or less than 5% will generally not be visible to the naked eye.

Sending artwork by email

Please address it to ( with any relevant information regarding the job. Maximum file size preferred by email is 10mb.
Files larger than this should be sent on disk.

FTP upload

You can also FTP upload artwork directly to our server. Please contact us for more details.

Sending artwork on removable media

CD Rom, DVD, and USB memory sticks can be sent to: Platinum Print Ltd, Park House, Hookstone Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 7DB.
Please include a hard copy of your artwork for reference with any useful instructions. Please quote the order reference number and include a contact name, email address and telephone number in case of a query. Don’t forget to keep a copy of your file, in case we need you to undertake changes or corrections.

High resolution digital proofs

Our prices include a PDF proof. If you require a high resolution digital proof these can be supplied for an extra charge. Our Dupont proofs are calibrated to our printing presses.

Further assistance

If you need any help with sending your artwork please contact us on 01423 881158.