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Proper Graphic Design Art File Submission for Printing

how to properly provide art files for print

Graphic design art for printing submission, if it's coming from you, this is what we need to reproduce the best quality printed matter.

Recommended Art Submission File Types

  • Acrobat PDF (Flattened)
  • TIFF (w/ Zip Compression)
  • JPEG (w/ Maximum Quality)
  • Any Rasterized / Bitmapped 300dpi File

Acceptable Art Files Types

  • Acrobat PDF (Unflattened)
  • Adobe Illustrator with Outlined Fonts
  • Adobe Photoshop (Flattened)
  • EPS or PS with Outlined Fonts

Unacceptable Files Types
(Requiring Export to PDF or TIF)

  • Publisher Documents
  • Corel Draw Print Shop / Paint Shop
  • Any MS Office Program

Flattened PDF is the BEST printable file for graphic design art for printing submission.

A flattened PDF can be achieved through ALL current design software suites. If not, you can use Acrobat or Distiller to convert your file to PDF. If you do not have Acrobat, many shareware PDF programs are available. Using PDF eliminates the risk of embedded fonts, overly compressed images, and other nasty problems.

Tips for quality graphic design art for printing output:

Please read these art submission guidelines very carefully! Although we carefully check all of our customer files for problems, we are not responsible for incorrectly formatted artwork. If you are at all concerned about providing the print-ready design, allow us to help with the design.


DirectMailXperts is a high-resolution printer, so we require all submitted files to be 300 dpi (Dots Per Inch). If you design a job at 72 dpi or lower, we cannot use the file. Our prepress will resize it to 300dpi, therefore “stretching” the image out.

Bleed, Trim & Safety

About 1/8” on all sides will be trimmed off. Everything that extends past the original canvas size is considered a bleed. Make sure you do not have any important content in this area. Adjust your canvas size to compensate for this; allow another 1/8”. (See Size)

Although DirectMailXperts’ cutting staff is extremely precise, we can not guarantee any print job cuts without the added bleed. There are no exceptions. Also, please keep your text at least 1/4″ away from the edge of the piece unless it is an eighth page or smaller. This way, your text is in a “safe” area. If you have any questions regarding this policy, you may call us at 888.671.3115.

The trim area is a space of 1/8″ after the bleed. Its purpose is to separate any text or important content from the edge.

The safety area is the space where it’s “safe” to put your layout, design, and content.


Your print files should be designed in the size that is being ordered. We assume that you desire what you have ordered, and files will be re-sized in accordance with the job. We will not stretch and enlarge a file unless at your request. For example, a 4.25″x5.5″ quarter page ordered as a 4″x6″ postcard will print as a 4″x6″. Please ask us to send you our Design Templates for exact sizes and formats.


If your job requires a border, please note that in order to have your border exact, DirectMailXperts recommends AT LEAST a minimum of .25″ on all sides. Our cutters are specialists in their field; however, due to the paper shift, we can not guarantee it would be exactly balanced on all sides.


There are two types of color spaces that are used for graphic and print design:

RGB (Red, Green, Blue)
These are the colors your monitor uses to display everything.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black)
These are the colors used for printing.

Using the color BLACK
Rich Black Large, solid black areas and text over 36 points should use Rich Black to prevent the color looking gray. Rich Black consists of 30% Cyan, 30% Magenta, 30% Yellow, 100% Black. For regular body text, do not use Rich Black

4 Color Build Black
If you have small, thin text on your piece, it is STRONGLY recommended that you do not use 4-color build black on your piece. Although, using a 4-color black is recommended on larger areas, using 4-color text on small areas will make your text blurry and at times, unreadable.

Process printing uses 4 plates that overlay to make your full color spectrum on your paper. Although precise, the registration of the 4-plates will shift during the print process. If you use all 4 colors to create your black, they will not line-up precisely, creating a ghosting affect.

This is especially evident on small text, or small lines 12pt and smaller. In order to fix this, we require that all small text be created as 100% black, 0% Cyan, Magenta, Yellow. This way, as plates shift, it will not affect the black color.


Convert fonts to paths when possible. By converting fonts to paths in programs like Illustrator and FreeHand, you will avoid having to send the fonts with your files. When converting to paths, the text becomes a vector shape and will look no different than its original state.

In Photoshop, text can be rasterized and therefore does not need the fonts. Keep in mind that after rasterizing text, no changes can be made to the text. If your fonts are not converted to paths or rasterized, your design may not be viewed the way it was meant to be seen.

File Names

In order to make the pre-flight process more efficient, please use unique file names for files you are submitting. The file name should reflect the job name that was given when ordering. Example: DrJohn_4x6_front.pdf

Confused? Don't worry, The Xperts are here to help! 888-671-3115