A Beginner’s Guide to Formatting Documents

In this blog post we will go over a few common things you will need to do to prepare a print file with us. From document types to bleeds and color corrections to the final resolution, follow this beginner’s guide to help you prepare for your next print need.

Document Types

The most common document type for printing is a PDF. However, PDF only works for print-ready files. These files have been approved for printing and no longer need to be edited. Next is a native file. A native file is a file that has not been exported but contains all the details of the document. It’s also called a working file. While preparing your native file, make sure to include links to artwork and typography otherwise you may encounter rendering issues during export. While PNG and JPEG files will work for sending proofs, they are not recommended for the final print-ready file as they do not contain the ability to hold resolution when scaling artwork for print.

Color Conversions

Before sending over documents to be printed, they need to be in print-ready colors. There is a difference between the colors you see on the screen and the printed color. The difference lies in the color model. There are three main color models used in design, RGB, CMYK, and PMS. RBG stands for Red, Green, Blue and is used to show images on the computer screen only. We print using the CMYK color model which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key(Black). PMS colors are designed specifically for matching colors from the Pantone Matching System. They allow you to specify colors that cannot be mixed in traditional CMYK. Please be sure to convert into the correct color conversions before printing.


If you need your project cut to a certain size, please be sure to include a bleed on your artwork. Bleeds typically add an extra 1/8″ on each side of the material so that the artwork extends to the full length of the paper when cut. This is to preserve the look and quality of the finished product. If you require a bleed on your document, please don’t forget to include the crop marks. This helps us to know where to cut and ensure it’s cut correctly.


Resolution refers to how many dots per inch or DPI are in your document. DPI is a common term used when saving or exporting a document that tells the file how many dots per inch to add to the document to obtain the proper resolution of the image/document. High-resolution documents typically come in 300 DPI which is the recommended resolution for print documents at standard size. Anything less than 200 DPI should be replaced with a higher-resolution option or it will be printed as is. Do not enlarge photos or text beyond the original size during the design stage as it will look blurry after printing.

For more tips on formatting documents or printing inquiries, call us today to get started on your specific print or mailing needs.