Preparing Files for Print Part 7 – Get Press Ready Checklist

Dec 18, 2020 | Design and Production Support

You’re happy with your design, you know what you want as the outcome. Now it’s time to get your files ready for the Press and over to your printer. In this article we’ll give you a checklist of all the important steps you need to complete before sending the file over.

  1. Introduction
  2. Card Sizes: things to consider
  3. Image Resolution
  4. Understanding Colour modes (CMYK vs RGB vs Pantone)
  5. Bleed and Trim
  6. Finishing Layers (Foil, flitter, emboss)
  7. Getting Files Press Ready Checklist you are here
  8. Working with your Printer

Getting Press Ready: The Checklist

Use the following checklist to ensure your files are ready for the printing presses. If you have your own in-house checklist, make sure these are on there too.

Send files as Press Ready PDFs

The PDF format is the most appropriate to send your files to your printer. It’s a universally accepted format, and it’s platform agnostic (your artwork will look the same on a PC or a Mac).

Check your colour mode

Files should be sent in CMYK, never in RGB.

Is the file at the right resolution?

Most printers require the artwork to be 300dpi at 100%.

Has bleed been included?

Artwork should contain 3mm bleed around each edge.

Embed your fonts – or outline them

Make sure to embed any fonts used in the design (it’s usually a setting in most design packages). This ensures they will print as expected even if the printer doesn’t have the font installed on their systems.

Better still, outline your fonts. This converts them into images instead of fonts.

Flatten layers

Image layers are useful during the design process, but they are not required by the Printer. Flatten your layers before saving the print ready file.

Emboss & Finish layers

Create emboss, foil, glitter and other finish layers in a unique colour and label them for your printer. Or ask your print supplier how they want these finishes supplied.

Check your ink coverage

Areas of high ink coverage can cause issues, and will increase the manufacture time, because the ink will take longer to dry. Try to avoid excessive ink coverage – if in doubt discuss with your printers what’s acceptable.

Double Triple check all the details

Make sure you’ve checked all the spellings, the barcode, the SKU code, the message inside, and any other details that are on the card. Errors discovered later can delay the production process and could prove to be costly mistakes.

Name your files appropriately

A file called “the-one-with-the-pink-butterfly.pdf” may mean something to you as the designer and publisher, but it makes it difficult for your printer to manage and locate it in the future. Ideally give each file the same name as the unique SKU code (the product code).

Use a file transfer service

Email is a great business tool (most of the time!) but it’s not great for sending multiple large files. Instead use a file sharing service such as, or share the files from a cloud storage system like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.

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