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Pixels To Print: 5 Common Mistakes When Sharing Design Files



Whether you are a designer or are someone who works with a designer, keep in mind these common mistakes when sharing design files to save time on both sides of the conversation. If you are sending an art file to be printed, these are especially important to avoid so that your design will be printed exactly how you’d like it to be!

1. No bleed areas included

One of the most common mistakes we see when receiving art files is the lack of bleeds. A bleed area refers to an extra 1/8” (or more) of an image or background design that extends beyond the trim area of your printing piece to ensure that there is no misalignment when your final piece is cut.


2. Colors are in RGB, not CMYK

To quickly describe the difference, CMYK is the color mode intended for printing with ink, while RGB is the color mode intended for screen displays. CMYK uses white as the natural color of the print background and black as a combination of colored inks, so the more color added in CMYK mode, the darker the result. The more color added to RGB, on the other hand, the lighter the result because RGB uses white as a combination of all primary colors and black as the absence of light.

With this being said, when a file is sent in RGB mode but is intended for print, the art will print with a dramatic color difference to that seen on screen. To avoid any surprises with your printed designs, be sure to set up your file in CMYK mode from the start.


3. Low resolution images

For print, the golden resolution is at least 300 dpi, and for digital use, it is recommended to have an image with at least 72 ppi resolution. To read more about resolution, check out our blog Understanding Resolution. When sending images or files to your designer to add into a file or for printing, make sure that the resolution meets these standards (and that if using sourced images, they are print-quality files from professional image sources!)



4. Fonts aren’t outlined/ links aren’t embedded

Another mistake on the top of the list of what we see most often is that links aren’t embedded or fonts aren’t outlined. It is ideal to send a file for print that has embedded links and fonts so that everything will print exactly how it was designed without any replacements or errors. If a file is sent without these elements embedded, a missing link and/or missing font error will show up, holding up print or preventing a designer from editing any further without the supplied files. To outline your text, go to Type>Create Outlines (Shift+Control+O) in Illustrator. To embed a link, select your image in the Links Panel, and select Embed Image from the drop down in the top right corner.


5. Artboard size doesn’t match size of the design

If you are sending an art file directly to be printed, always make sure that you are providing the file at the size that you intend for print. For example, if you’re wanting to print a notecard at 4” x 6”, set up your art to match this size. If a 5” x 10” file is sent to be printed at 4” x 6”, your design will end up being cut off when scaled, or will need to be resized.


If you have any questions or hesitations about your design files, reach out to NorthPoint’s design team, and we will be happy to help! Whether it’s designing, resizing, making recommendations, or actually bringing your art to print, we’ll walk you through every step of the way.

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