Preparing Digital Print Files: Cover Files

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1106 Design

November 29, 2016

Guest post by Sandy Gould, Direct Sales Manager, Color House Graphics

Having good print-ready files helps keep your book project on time and on budget. Whether you’re printing digital or offset, it is important to be sure you have all print specifications correct before submitting your files.

At Color House Graphics, we find many unplanned file adjustments and corrections can easily be avoided. We have assembled some of the most important steps needed to ensure your cover files are print-ready when you submit them for digital printing.

Assembling the parts:

Your cover must contain the back cover, spine, and front cover panel. These files should be created as a spread, showing all 3 parts of your book cover from left to right.

Always request a layout template from your printer ahead of time. This provides you or your designer with the specific allowances for bleed, image area and spine dimensions. You should always specify the trim size, the bleed and the trim marks. Bleeds must extend beyond the edge of the page boundaries no less than .125 inches.

Resolution

Prepare your files with the proper resolution. A resolution of 300 DPI or higher is optimal.

Embedding Fonts

Embedding fonts in your PDF file allows anyone who opens your file to see the document as you intended. If you don’t embed the fonts, the PDF viewer will substitute a font if the one needed is not available on the computer being used to view the document. The results usually aren’t what you intended.

Working in CMYK and RGB

RGB refers to the primary colors of light, Red, Green and Blue, that are used in monitors, digital cameras and scanners. CMYK refers to the primary colors of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. A lot of colors created in RBG mode are not achievable in printing. It is best to create your document from the start in CMYK color mode. Text, graphics, and photography should all be created in or converted to CMYK.

Rich Black Vs. Process Black

When printing digitally with black solid colors, there are two types of black you can use: process black and rich black. It may be hard to tell the difference on your computer monitor, so you may want to request a printed proof when designing with large print areas of black.

Process black should be used for body text, bar codes and QR codes, while rich black can be used for large areas of black or large black display type.

Proofs

Always ask for hard-copy color proofs of your work to see if the colors will print as you expect. Be sure to proof-read carefully before sending all files in final PDF format.

Laminates and Coatings

Remember that most laminate or protective coatings (including varnish, aqueous, UV), may shift the color of the inks or toners once applied to the printed sheets. If color is critical, you may want to see a printed proof that includes the coating along with the cover material you have specified.

These recommendations are not all-inclusive.  All printers have somewhat different workflows that call for slightly different requirements and recommendations.  Be sure you contact your print provider to obtain more information about their specific file submission requirements and PDF file output settings.

Visit colorhousegraphics.com for more information or contact me.

Sandy Gould

Direct Sales Manager

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