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Preparing Files

The following is an overview of the file types and requirements for submission of print ready files. The file can be transmitted to American Printing electronically or via CD/DVD.

Please include all necessary elements with the job.

1) Documents: Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress

  • Build document to the final trim size.
  • Build document in reader’s spreads with facing pages if it will be saddle stitched; for perfect bind, create the document as single pages and allow bleeds on all four sides of the page.
  • Include an 1/8 inch bleed when necessary. Pull all images and backgrounds out 1/8” past the edge of the document to avoid white paper showing when document is trimmed.
  • Output and submit final lasers or provide a low-res PDF for American to output. Please label if lasers have been reduced in size when printed.
  • Build in short panels as needed to accommodate folding (check with your Sales Representative for assistance).
  • When naming file keep the names simple and meaningful. Please avoid the following characters: “/”,    “\”,    “-”,  a simple “_” makes a good word separator.

2) Images:

Vector: Adobe Illustrator

  • Save or export all linked file as .eps (.ai is OK if used in Adobe InDesign).
  • Tints should contain less than 300 % total ink (C+M+Y+K).
  • Avoid complex transparency effects when working with spot colors.
  • Keep spot color naming consistent from file to file and from one application to another.

Raster:  Adobe Photoshop

  • All images should be 300dpi for best print reproduction.
  • Images should contain less than 300% total ink (C+M+Y+K).
  • All images should be CMYK, grayscale or duotone/tritone in mode.
  • Save CMYK/grayscale images as tiff (LZW compression may be applied)
  • Save images with clipping paths or duotone/tritones as eps.
  • All RGB images should be converted to CMYK + PMS.
  • Avoid over-scaling (75-125%) images in layout programs, re-sizing of images in Photoshop to placed size yields the best results.

3) Fonts:

  • For postscript fonts include both screen and printer fonts.
  • Include fonts used within illustration (vector) files
  • Avoid using stylization in your layout application for fonts you do not have.

Creating PDF Files

PDF is readily becoming an industry standard for print ready file submission. PDF has many advantages including:

  • Minimal file sizes for efficient transmission and processing
  • Device-independent page descriptions
  • Files can be viewed and edited at late stages of production
  • Self-contained independent pages within a document


Keeping that in mind, the real key to producing good PDF is in the native files themselves. Bad native files (Photoshop, Illustrator, quark, InDesign, fonts) will create bad PDFs. Below is a list of the major problems:

  • Fonts: ensure that all fonts are loaded prior to creation of PDF
  • Image Resolution: all halftone and continuous tone images should be at a minimum 200 dpi (optimally 300 dpi), and bitmaps should be at least 600 dpi (optimally 1200 dpi).
  • Color Space: all images should be set to the correct color space; rgb should be set to cmyk color space.
  • Color Separations: verify that your project will separate as it will be printed (cmyk vs spot colors).
  • Bleeds: extend all elements that run on the edge of a page an additional .125” beyond the final page trim.
  • Document size: create the document to the final size that you would like the document produced. Pay particular attention to panel sizes where one panel needs to be shorter to accommodate a fold.

InDesign PDF Files

1. File - Export. Set format to Adobe PDF. Click Save.
2. Start with the High Quality Print Adobe PDF Preset. Make sure your settings match the screen shots here. The last 4 tabs can be left with default settings.
3. Click Export 

Quark XPress PDF Files

1. File - Export - Layout as PDF.
2. Click on the options tab in the Export dialog box.
3. Start with PDF style Press-High Quality/ High Resolution. The last 5 tabs can be left with default settings. Click OK.
Note: If you are using spot colors, set the color to Composite As Is.
4. Click Save

Microsoft Publisher PDF Files

To save or export a Microsoft Publisher file to PDF, you must first install the Save as PDF or XPS add-in for the 2007 Microsoft Office system. To do this Go to the Microsoft Save as PDF Add-in for 2007 and follow the instructions on that page.
1. Under the file menu select Publish as PDF or XPS.
2. Change the Save as type: to PDF and then click Change
3. Select the Commercial Press option.
Notice at the bottom of this window, “Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded.” This is used to keep copyrights safe. Some font manufacturers will not allow a font to be transported to another machine. After you have made your PDF please open it up and look at it magnified to at least 300% size. If the type is jagged or chunky it will print this way when sent to us. If this is unacceptable please change the font to another style that is not protected.
Next, Click Print Options
4. Add 1/4” to whatever page size you have set-up your project at and select Allow Bleeds.
5. Click OK until you are back to Publish as PDF or XPS and then click Publish. If you are presented with an error then correct them before proceeding.


Microsoft Word or Excel Files (Windows)

If your file will bleed be sure to add .125" space all around document to account for it.  For example an 8.5 x 11 document will need to be 8.75 x 11.25 in page setup.  To save a PDF in Microsoft word or Excel please install PDF Creator that you can download here.  Once PDF Creator is installed just click print - choose PDF Creator and save file to location of your choice.  

Microsoft Word or Excel Files (Macintosh)

If your file will bleed be sure to add .125" space all around document to account for it.  For example an 8.5 x 11 document will need to be 8.75 x 11.25 in page setup.  To save a PDF in Microsoft word or Excel go to File - Print - Choose PDF button - choose destination location.