Page Design Tips

The following information includes best practices and tips for page design when prepping for printing.

Missing Links

Most page layout and illustration programs allow clients to place or import graphic files - typically EPS or JPEG - into them, and these placed files should always be included with the final document when sent to the printer or output bureau.

Do not "Stylize" graphics in InDesign or any layout program {such as negative, contrast, posturize, ghosting, etc). Special effects like these produce better results when they are created in Photoshop or other effect-specific applications.

Naming Files

Name your files logically. Limit your file names to as few characters as possible. Leading and trailing spaces or symbols should not be used. Never name two files or images the same, even if they are on different pages.

Page Setup

Ensure your design is on a page that is the final size you want it to be when finished. We are not able to resize files to different dimensions; this needs set up at the beginning of the design process.

Export PDFs 

Follow these instructions when exporting a final PDF to send to us at Printing Services.

How to Export PDFs

Package Adobe InDesign Files

Follow these instructions when packaging a final Adobe InDesign file to send to us at Printing Services.

How to Package Adobe InDesign Files

Book Work

Do not send single page documents, it is very time consuming to process them. Always design your document as single pages in reader's order, never printer's order.

Do Not Specify Rules as Hairline

Many high resolution output devices interpret Hairline to be the minimum thickness of a line the device can draw. Compared with a laser printer, a high resolution imagesetter can image an extremely thin line that is unprintable on press. If you want a thin line, specify the rule as .25 or .5 of a point rather than the hairline default.


Any element that extends to the final trim edge needs to be extended to at least .125''(1/8''). Do not include the bleed when setting up your document size. Bleed should be extended past the edge of the document. Always create your document to final trim size (100%). Most printers use software to impose your files into press-ready layouts. This software depends on your documents to be created to final trim size. If your final size is 4x6 make your document (PAGE SETUP) 4x6. Do not build your file in the middle of a 8 1/2x11.


The most common mistake made when creating a folded brochure with a fold-out or roll fold is making every panel the exact same size. The front and back must be the same size, but the fold-out panel must be slightly shorter to allow the brochure to lay flat. The same rule applies to a roll fold with multiple fold-in panels; each panel must be short as the pages roll inward.


In most cases it is easier if the pre-press department performs any trapping required for output since printers have more information available to make proper decisions regarding the tolerances of the printing presses. The most common trapping problem is misuse of overprint. You should never assign a colored object overprint if it is over a black object. The black object will cover the colored object. The one exception to this could be in the use of metallic colors. You should check with your printing company about trapping specifications for metallic colors. White should never be assigned overprint. The colored object will cover the white and it will disappear. White objects and text should always be assigned knock-out.

Clean up your documents before bringing them in to your service bureau. This includes removing any unused spot colors from your color palettes, deleting any unused fonts, and eliminating any items outside of your document in the pasteboard. These simple steps make it easier for us to output and less likely for a postscript error to occur. Do not cover up unwanted elements with white boxes. Delete them instead. Don't treat your computer like a typewriter. It is no longer necessary to add two spaces after a period. Don't use the space bar when creating type in columns; always use tabs.


Beware of large areas of solid black when designing files for 4 color printing. Many printing presses can't handle large areas of solid black ink, and those that can, often produce a black that is very dull-lookingin comparison to the rest of the colors on the page. This is because most colors are a mixture of colors whose lower density values add up to more than 100% (maximum amount for anyone ink color). The best way to deal with this is by creating what is known as a PROCESS BLACK. That is a mixture of 100% black with lower densities of two or more process colors. For example, Cyan = 40%, Magenta = 30%, Yellow = 20% and Black = 100%.

Color Image Format

All color images should be saved in CMYK color mode. RBG images cannot be printed without being converted to CMYK. GIFs and BMPs are great for screen display and the Internet; however, they do not fit well within printing production workflow. These file formats will likely cause problems in postscript output. GIFs are index color instead of CMYK and will cause unexpected results. High resolution JPEG and EPS file formats should be used to avoid output problems.


Line art should have a resolution of no less than 900-1200 dpi. Grayscale and 4-color should have a minimum resolution of 300dpi or double the line screen used. Always attempt to scan your images so they can be placed in the document at 100%. Halftones should have a dot of no less than 3% highlight and no more than 90% shadows. For most purposes, a resolution ratio higher than 2:1 will provide little or no improvement in the final result, and will cause prolonged imaging times, which costs you money.

Image Sizing

Try to scan your images so they can be placed in the document at 100%. They should not be placed any larger than 150%, or smaller than 30%. As an image is enlarged in the page layout the resolution becomes lower, this means that if you enlarge an image large enough it will become low-res. A 300 ppi scan placed at 200% becomes only 150 ppi. The only way to really solve this problem is to rescan the image. Likewise as you reduce an image you will increase the resolution. A 300 ppi scan placed at 50% will be 600 ppi. Reducing the image will not cause any problem with image quality, but the image will take longer to print or cause the file not to print at all. Reduce your images in PhotoShop and place them at 100% to avoid prolonged imaging time.

Spot or CMYK Colors

If your job is printing in CMYK, be sure to convert any Spot Colors to Process Colors. This is especially important in illustration programs such as Illustrator and Freeland. You should not have any spot colors in any of your files UNLESS they are actually printing a spot color ink. Use only Pantone or Custom CMYK colors only. Never use RGB, HSL or any other nonstandard color models. Avoid use of default spot colors such as Red, Green and Blue. Delete any unused colors. Make sure color names are consistent throughout your project. (PMS 485 will not output on the same plate as PANTONE 485 CV - the names must match exactly).

Proper Application Use

Use the proper program for the proper purpose. Don't use a drawing program to do page layout, or a page layout program to do imaging operations such as rotating or silhouetting. Each program is a tool with a specific purpose in mind. Don't use word processing programs for final output purposes, (ie; Microsoft Word). Four-color separated film cannot be output from them (though they work fine for color laser prints). Photoshop should not be used as a final page layout program, it creates unnecessarily large files and easily rasterizes small type.