Print File Essentials Guide

Supplying Print Ready Artwork

When ordering from us, we want you to be just as happy when you're holding your finished print as you were when signing off the final PDF file. We want your artwork files to print correctly first time and look just as you meant them to look. To make sure this happens, we've put together our file essentials guide which includes information and tips on how to correctly supply your artwork file for commercial printing.

Does Nettl check my files before printing?

We offer a free file check with every order. With our file check service we'll highlight and feedback any issue with your artwork file before proceeding to print, however finding issues with a file after an order has been placed can have an impact on turnaround time. 

Below are the minimum file supply essentials you should follow when preparing your artwork to make sure your artwork file prints exactly as you intended. The below essentials cover our lithographically printed products, which is the majority of our range. We do use other print processes for our large format and digital printing ranges which have slightly different requirements - just ask if you have any doubts.

Essentials To Check Before Supplying Your Artwork File For Printing:

Check you have set your page size to match the product that you are ordering. Some products may have special sizes or bleed requirements. Most products generally have 1.5mm bleed on each edge, but there are some exceptions such as Booklets and Large Format Posters. Files supplied without a bleed will be scaled up to create the required bleed, which may result in printed elements appearing closer to the edge than expected.

You can download our most popular product sizes as InDesign or PDF template files. Just visit our Download Templates page and choose the size you need. 

Key Information On Page Size & Bleeds:

  • Ensure you use the correct page size. Download our artwork templates to get the correct size or alternatively you can check the size of any given product on the product page for the item.
  • Make sure you add a bleed to your files, this is generally 1.5mm on each edge with some exceptions (such as booklets & large format).

The quiet zone (sometimes referred to as safe zone) is an area around the edge of your document which should be kept clear of important elements such as text or logos. The quiet zone varies depending on the product ordered, for most of our products we ask that all important elements are 4mm away from the cut edge, or 5.5mm away from the page edge. Elements left within this area may appear closer to the edge than expected when guillotined, may even be cut off during guillotining and often result in an uneven looking design.

Key Information On Quite/Safe Zones

  • All important elements should be 4mm away from the cut edge, or 5.5mm away from the page edge.
  • Our InDesign templates include quiet zones as a layer which you can use as a guide when preparing your artwork file.

When preparing your file, ensure that you have set your artwork up in CMYK colour mode, including all link, images, logos and other assets used on your file. Most of our printed products are produced using a CMYK process. If RGB or LAB colours are found in your supplied file they will be converted to CMYK which will result in some colour shift. We do not recommend supplying files in RGB, LAB or as Pantone references as they will be converted to CMYK prior to printing and are unlikely to print as expected.

Key Information On Colour Modes

  • Ensure your artwork file and all links, images, logos and other assets used within the file are set to CMYK colour mode.

Make sure all colours using within your file are below a 300% total ink coverage for coated papers and 225% for uncoated. Lower limits apply to some papers, take a look at our full guidelines for recommended ink levels. If you supply a file which contains over 300% total ink coverage we will reduce this down below 300% prior to printing which can cause some shift in colour and could lead to unexpected results.

Key Information On Ink Levels

  • Ensure your file does not contain any colours using over 300% total ink coverage.

Key Information Set Off, Misregistration & Banding

  • Avoid using more than one CMYK colour channel for Black Text (100% K only reduces the likelihood of misregistration, which results from aligning multiple plates with fine details).
  • Use a Rich Black (100% Black (K) and 40% Cyan OR 100% Black (K) and 40% Magenta) for areas over 2cm square in size to avoid banding as single colour blacks can appear washed out when printed across large areas.
  • Avoid using colours with an ink limit of 225% for Uncoated Stocks and 300% for Coated Stocks to reduce the likelihood of set-off, which is when ink transfers from one side to the other during guillotining.

Once you are ready to supply your file, please outline all fonts (sometimes referred to as convert to curves) used in your file and then save your file as a PDF file. We prefer you to supply us with a 'Press Quality' PDF (Compatibility: Acrobat 5 (PDF Version 1.4) or later). 

Key Information File Formats

  • Supply your file to use as a press quality PDF file.
  • Outline (convert to curves) all fonts used on your file before saving it as a PDF.

Can’t find the information you need? Unsure about anything? Our team are here to help. Contact Us >