Setting Up Files For Print

shutterstock_80810596As a family owned and operated printing company that has been around since 1959, we have seen our fair share of great and, well, not so great print project files. One of the most common reasons a project takes longer than projected is due to improper setup or errors in the files. We want to help you avoid these hold-ups, so we have provided a couple quick tips to help you set up your files more efficiently.


When creating a design file, there are two color options: CMYK (four color) and RGB (three color). Many colors created in one type cannot be replicated in the other, so it is important to set the color mode properly from the beginning. CMYK is the standard for most print projects, where RGB is the standard for most web and digital projects.

Setting the color mode is quite simple. When creating a new document on Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, select CMYK from the “Color Mode” dropdown. To change the color profile on an existing document, select “Edit” > “Color Settings.”

Bleed & Margins

When referring to a digital document, bleed refers to the area that extends beyond the actual dimensions of the document. A document’s bleed is essentially an extra bit of cushion to ensure there won’t be any unprinted spots around the edges in case of slight shifting during the printing process. A minimum bleed of 0.125” on all four sides is generally preferred, which adds 0.25” to the overall height and width. For example: a document with a finished (cut) size of 8.5” x 11” would be 8.75” x 11.25” including the bleed when sent for print.

In addition to the bleed, you should also set up a margin within your document. This will give you a visual representation of where the text or content of the piece will lay to prevent important material from getting too close to the edge. When creating a document in Photoshop, you will need to make the calculations for the document (as we mentioned above) and then set guides for the bleed and margin widths. In Illustrator, you will enter the finished page size, add the bleed in the appropriate areas on the document setup, and add guides for the margins. In InDesign, there are individual options to enter the page size, bleed, and margin all in the document setup.

If you are unsure of how a document should be prepared, get in touch with our printing specialists before getting started. We are happy to help make sure everything is done properly to save time and money!

Great customer service, friendly, easy to work with. The quality of the work is excellent. I recommend EBA Printing all the time.

Moshe R., Mequon, WI

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