We’ve put together an easy to follow guide on preparing print ready artwork, as we know all too well how daunting it can be setting artwork up ready for print.

Someone once said to me “If you don’t learn something new in print every month, then there is probably something wrong” It’s a true statement even to this day, print is not an exact science and for that reason things can and do go wrong. We are often asked what format we would like print ready artwork to be supplied to ensure the job is printed perfectly, hence putting together these print ready artwork guidelines.

Here we have put together a final check list to help you prepare print ready artwork. Assuming that you have a sound knowledge on using Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and other similar desktop publishing programs capable of outputting print ready artwork, this guide should help you overcome some of the most common steps easily missed.

We always advise our customers first to check their artwork thoroughly before outputting a print ready file. This can be quite technical, but the time spent checking now can ensure there are no delays and that as intended, your job will print perfectly.


The Final Checklist!


  • Ensure all your images have been saved at a resolution of 300dpi. Line art should be 1200dpi. You can check your image resolution in Photoshop if required.
  • Check all your images have been saved as CMYK, and not RGB colours which are used for on-screen and websites. This article explains more about working with screens and these colour formats RGB and CMYK Difference


  • Your text and other line work should be set up as CMYK unless we have advised otherwise. If you have specified any spot pantone colours, these should be supplied as a 5th colour, 6th colour, etc. Ensure there are no RGB colours.
  • If there is die cutting, creasing or perforations required within your artwork these should be set up as a separate colour. We advise 100% magenta so that it is easily visible. Set this up as an extra layer or as a separate file so that if it was overlaid, it would fit correctly sized over the intended area requiring the finishing process.
  • Should you have solid black areas set up within your document you should set these up as a Rich Black. This means your CMYK pallet should be set to 100% black (K) and 50% Cyan (C). This should not be confused with solid blacks within images, which should not be touched.

Further information about working with colour is available in the following articles Understanding Pantone and Colour and avoiding the pitfalls of Pantone and CMYK reproduction


  • If there are any transparencies within your artwork, ensure these are flattened.


  • If you have set text to “knock-out” (in other words to print white out of a solid background colour) we recommend you do not use a font less than 12pt. Avoid using serif fonts unless larger than 12pt to avoid filling in. This is where the ink is so dense to produce the solid background colour that it can seep into the fine type or detail, causing distortion of the intended design.
  • Fine text and fine lines should be set up as a single colour to ensure sharp reproduction when printed. Usually most designers will specify black, if you decide on using CMYK we would recommend you do not use less than a 9pt size font. This will help to avoid any slight fuzz on the edges.


  • We require trim, crop and registration marks on all pages of artwork. These should appear at full size of the document trim size. In other words at 100%
  • 3mm of bleed is required on all sides of every page. If you have specified to perfect bind or PUR Bind job, we 10mm of bleed to the spine of each page of each page.
  • Any solids, images, key lines not bleeding off the page should be kept within a 5mm-7mm of the edge of all pages.

More information on crop marks and bleed is available here

Exporting for Print

  • Please ensure you export your artwork as individual pages (exported as one PDF document) and not double page spreads, since we use pre-press workflow software to arrange the layouts, based on how we print your job.
  • Do not use ICC profiling. Our workflow systems do not use colour management other than to adjust for dot-gain, where required.
  • All files should be saved as a PDF. Use the latest and most up to date version.


  • We will check your file for errors within our workflow and report back on any errors, if required and prior to print.
  • Depending on what has been advised or specified during estimating we may send ripped PDFs proofs for final checking and press approval. Alternatively, we may send you printed proofs for sign off.

More information on proofing options is available here

We hope your find these print ready artwork guidelines is useful. If you still find this a little daunting have no fear, here’s our knowledge guide with explanations on the printing technical terms.

We also have a team of experts on hand that can manage and set up your artwork for print. Please call our artwork printing services team at Print Worx or fill our “request a quote form” below. Our print guru’s will be in touch with you within no time at all.

See our guide on requesting an estimate to learn more

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