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Designer FAQs

Designer Tips and Information

  • When possible, send High Res PDF files with bleed and crop marks for print
  • Use the Package feature in InDesign to package for output to send to print, don’t forget to include all images & fonts (see below for more details)
  • Include 1/8″ bleed on all 4 sides of your document (see below for more details)
  • Remember when printing a Four Color Process job to convert all images and colors to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), as opposed to RGB or Spot Colors
  • Always link your graphics instead of embedding them
  • Do not rename graphics files after you put your file on disk. If the files are named incorrectly, they will not link properly and cause delays as well as increase output costs
  • Set black text to 100% black (Not 4/Color text)
  • For large solid areas of black, consider setting the color to Rich Black (see below for suggested settings)
  • Create a copy of everything before sending

Print Layout

Above is a diagram of a typical document for print designs.

Trim Line: This is the finished size of the piece.

Live Area: The area that is considered safe to keep any important information within. For example, if a magazine’s trim size is 8.5 in × 11 in, the live area might be 8.0 in × 9.5 in. This takes into consideration the binding if the art is placed on the left or right of a spread and you don’t want the copy to be unreadable if it is too close to the spine.

Bleed Area: The minimum bleed you need for a printed piece is 0.125 in (1/8 in) but some specs require more than that. So if you are working with an image in Photoshop and you’re placing it in InDesign for print preparation, keep in mind the area you might need to use for the bleed.

Crop Marks: Indicates where to cut the paper.

Printing Blacks

Deciding When to Use Black vs. Rich Black

When printing on one of our digital presses, we want to print a solid black without undercolors.   If a typical rich black is used in the file for digital printing, that solid black could cast in those other color’s direction. No rich black for digital.

When conventionally printing a process color (CMYK) document with black color solids there are two types of black you can use:

Black (100% K) should be used for body text, barcodes, and QR Codes.
Rich Black (40 C 30 M 30 Y 100 K) should be used when using blocks of black or large black headlines.

The diagram above shows you the difference between rich black and black.

Again, you should only use a rich black for conventionally printed pieces, if printed digital, please leave all solid blacks as just a solid black by itself.

Adobe Acrobat PDF File Prep

A PDF File can be created using many different methods. Some applications use a bult-in PDF converter, and some do not have this functionality at all.

However, if you own a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional (this is not the same as Adobe Acrobat Reader), you can create a PDF from ANY application that supports printing. To create a PDF, simply choose “Adobe PDF” as your printer. Then simply choose the “Press Quality” preset when printing to the Adobe PDF printer. If using the preset, no further action is necessary.

Regardless of the method you choose to use in creating the PDF, a set of similar options will be available. The instructions included on this page assume you are using Adobe Acrobat Professional. Please use these options as a guide to help you determine what setting to choose in your application.

Design your artwork as you normally would while keeping in mind the specifications below about bleeds and colors.


Please keep bleeds in mind when you are designing your artwork. If your artwork has a white border, then bleeds are not required. However, if your artwork is not white on all four sides, then you must include bleeds in your files. This area should be extended past the page borders, as indicated by the blue lines in the above picture. We suggest extending your bleeds .125″ or 1/8″ beyond the trim marks.

Borders and Safe Area

The cutting process for printed materials has a mechanical tolerance of about .0625 or 1/16 of an inch. When using a border in your artwork, it is essential that your design use at least .125 or 1/8 of an inch of white space from your border to the cut line to maintain a symmetrical appearance.

It is also imperative that no text or essential parts of your artwork come within 1/16″ of the trim line. Again, due to the mechanical tolerance during the cutting process, any content within 1/16″ of the trim line may be cut off.

Please consult with your Chromagraphics sales representative to show your design layout and explain your expectations.  This will ensure your project is estimated with the proper press format and imposition.  This kind of partnership and communication helps to achieve excellent results.


For optimal results, your image must be at least 300 DPI (dots per inch), also known as Pixels Per Inch (PPI) at the final output size. Please do not attempt to change a low-resolution image to a higher one by changing the DPI in your imaging software. It’s impossible to add resolution to an image.

Packaging InDesign Files

PREFLIGHT: The Preflight option allows InDesign to check your files for common printing errors and help you solve them. To use this feature, simply choose “Preflight” from the file menu.

PACKAGE: Please resolve any issues detected by the preflight process. Once InDesign detects no errors, please choose “Package” either from the File Menu, or by pushing the “Package” button on the preflight screen above. On this screen, please make sure to check Copy Fonts, Copy Linked Graphics, and Update Graphic Links in Package – then click Package.

Click here to view an Adobe Tutorial