Are you an office type who uses Microsoft Word and Excel for everything? Or maybe you’re a designer who won’t touch software that’s not made by Adobe? Regardless of your skill level or experience, everyone can use a reminder of what file types are best for print jobs.
Don’t Use Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint
First things first—most of the programs in the Microsoft Office suite are not meant for commercial printing. While it may seem easiest to just drop everything into a Word document or a PowerPoint slide if that is what you’re used to, it’s impossible to control the resolution or file size. This can lead to pixelated images, if we can even print from it at all.
If you absolutely have no other choice, then convert your Word or PowerPoint document to a PDF. To do this, you can go to your print menu and select “Print to PDF”. While not a press quality PDF file, this should be viable for small size projects.
Portable Document Format (PDF) was created by Adobe in the 1990's as a way to share files with others who may not share compatible operating systems or software. It was originally developed to be used in a print setting. In the years since, the format has grown to be used in many everyday applications and the availability to create a PDF (as mentioned above) is universal. The beauty of a PDF is that any fonts or images used can be stored within the PDF and transferred seamlessly.
When using a PDF for press printing, the resolution must be high. Also, be sure to include bleeds, this helps with the printing process. Creating a high-resolution PDF from Adobe software is as easy as selecting “Press Quality” in a pop-up menu.
JPG, GIF, PNG, and Other Image Files
There are many different image file types, and they all serve their own purposes. Portable Network Graphics (PNG) files and Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) files are only used on the screen because they are RGB-based and not meant for printing. If you can, make sure you use a JPG file—named for the Joint Photographic Experts Group and originally called JPEG. This format is the most common format for storing and sending photographic images and can be saved with a CMYK color profile.
Long story short: GIF and PNG are used on screens; use a JPG/JPEG for printing.
It’s OK to Submit Native Files
The term “native files” refers to the files that are created from your original document. Within Adobe products, this would mainly include Illustrator files (AI), InDesign files (INDD), or Photoshop files (PSD). We can use those documents to print from, so feel free to send them in a file package with all of the fonts and linked images necessary.