Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Artwork Guidelines for Direct2Print Online Printing

There are some useful hints and tips on our websites to help you prepare files for online printing.  This article just acts as a quick reference guide.  Sending a PDF file reduces the potential for any problems but is not guaranteed to produce the results you require.

The main point to note is that files sent to www.direct2print.net can be RGB format or CMYK format.  Files sent for full colour process printing to www.direct2printonline.co.uk must always be in CMYK format. 

Please contact our Customer Services free on 0800 0346 007 if you need help with preparing digital artwork.

Some basic advice is noted below:
File Types

We accept many types of files. However, PDF is preferred.  When you have finished creating your artwork always save as a PDF.  With some design software it is best to “flatten” images and avoid layers before saving.

We do accept files from some Microsoft Office applications (in particular Word and PowerPoint), this should only be for Document Printing and Digital Printing.  We cannot guarantee the desired output because there could still be some issues with regards to pagination or missing images but our production printing presses can print equally well from both RGB and CMYK files, so there should be no issues over colour.

If the file is created in RGB (usually a Microsoft programme) for full colour process printing the colours will be automatically converted to CMYK. The nearest equivalent colours will often show ink and photos to be darker and duller than how they would appear on screen or printed digitally or on a normal office or inkjet printer. 

If you create artwork in RGB format contact our designers for advice prior to uploading the files.  They will be happy to assist – simply call free on 0800 0346 007 and they will get back to you.

PDF Options

PDF is the safest method of saving and sending files.  However, there can still be potential problems with missing or corrupt fonts.  Make sure all objects, such as all the fonts and pictures, are embedded into the PDF. 

You can download free PDF creators from the internet and they can be used as another printer option on your computer – there are a number of links on our website to download PDF creators.


Bleed should not be added for Document Printing.  Crop Marks and Bleed are not necessary if your printing is not designed to meet the edge of the page when Digital Printing.

Bleed should be added for Digital Printing where artwork is designed to meet the edge of the page (usually extending the background colour).

If your artwork meets the edge of the page, but has no bleed, we will either cut into your job to make the finished size slightly smaller or you will have a white border around your finished printing.

To create bleed you are required to extend the size of the page by 2 – 3mm and, if possible, add crop marks to the finished size. 

·        Font Size

Font sizes below 8pt can become difficult to read. Avoid putting too much text onto promotional items like leaflets and business cards.  10-11pt is recommended for most documents or ‘body text’ and if your font size has to be any smaller to fit everything in – then you probably have too much text in the first place.

Avoid using very thin fonts as this may also cause problems over the clarity of the information.  And be aware that some script typefaces make legibility of postcodes and telephone numbers very difficult.

Where possible stick to the better known fonts – it can save a lot of problems!

·        ‘Rich’ Blacks

This is a technical term and common with full colour process printing.  When preparing artwork for larger quantities of printing and non-digital output you will need to prepare colours in a CMYK format.  Solid blacks should be made of 30% Cyan (C), 30% Magenta (M), 30% Yellow (Y) and 100% Black (K). 100% Black alone can appear dull over large areas.

·        Picture Resolution

Image files or photographs should ideally be at least 300dpi.  Jpegs are normally created in screen resolution of 72dpi and can often appear to be pixelated when printed. 

We have successfully printed jpegs or used artwork for some items but pay particular attention if the image has to be enlarged.

A good indication of the quality of the printing any images is usually the size of the file – and if the file size is below 1MB it is worth checking image quality before sending to print.

·        File Size

Files should be as small as possible without compromising on quality. Files larger than 20mb will not go through our email system. The easiest method to send large files is through one of the free file transfer services that can be found on the internet.  On our LINKS page there are links to a number of these free services.

·        Proofing

A free printed proof can be supplied if requested. Simply log onto the FREE TRIAL page and we will print a sample page on the nearest available stock.

This is strongly recommended if there is a need to match a particular colour and you have plenty of time before the need to place an order.

Our printers can scan and store particular pantone colours for regular orders where colour is particularly important for the company identity.

·        Colour Matching

Every printing press is different and colour can even vary between runs of the same artwork even on the same day. However, we can attempt to match colours if a suitable sample is supplied. Our machines are regularly calibrated to achieve the closest possible colour representation.

Our digital production printers can also modify the image by lightening or darkening your printed page in a series of gradual steps.  In most cases, our operator will make a judgement to try and obtain the best results.

·        Some Other Things To Avoid

Avoid using borders, especially for double-sided artwork. It is difficult to register both sides perfectly and there is often a little movement when paper or card travels through the press.

Be aware that your border may not be consistent throughout the finished product.  This is particularly important if the document or printed product needs to be folded.

Avoid using ink coverage of above 240% (total of CMYK). This may result in the surface print buckling or curling when passing through the press.

Hopefully you will be pleased with the finished result and we offer a total quality guarantee on any printing that is below the high standards we would normally expect.  However, “prevention is always better than cure” and we would be happy to help and assist whenever required.

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