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File Preparation

Each Smartpress product includes one or more Artwork Guideline documents, to demonstrate how to set up your artwork. You can find links to these files on each product page. These files are in PDF format and can be viewed and printed with Acrobat Reader. When in doubt, download and peruse these files. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

To ensure the best digital print job possible, please keep these points in mind when creating and saving your artwork for Smartpress.

  • Please set up your art as “one-up”. We will impose it for the press using special tools here.
  • For 2-sided designs, please include each side of the print in one PDF instead of two PDFs.
  • PDF Files can be saved in a variety of ways, not all of them acceptable for professional printing. To ensure the success of your print job, please see How to Save Your PDF.
  • If your print job has a bleed, please make sure your artwork overlaps the edge of the page by 1/8 to 1/4 inch. 1/8 inch is sufficient for smaller jobs, such as business cards, flyers, postcards, and the like. 1/4 inch is preferable for large format jobs such as posters, signs, banners, canvas prints, or trade show graphics.
  • If your job has a bleed, your PDF file needs to be correctly sized and include crop marks. Some software packages, such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and QuarkXpress make it very easy to include crop marks and bleed. Other software, such as Microsoft Word, do not. In any case, if you have bleed, this is what your PDF should look like when you are done:
    • Your PDF’s page size should be 1/4″ inch wider and 1/4″ inch taller than the final cut size of your printing.
    • Center your artwork in the middle of the larger page.
    • Place crop marks on all four corners of your artwork to show us exactly where the document is to be trimmed.
    • Size your artwork so that it overlaps the edge of your printed piece from 1/8″ to 1/4″ on any bleed edge.

PDF is Recommended

Because there are numerous software packages and file formats that may be used to create artwork, it is neither practical or possible for a printer to support every possible file format. Also, many file formats make it very difficult if not impossible for the printer to produce the same output that the customer sees on their computer. For this reason, the printing industry has standardized on the PDF file format. A PDF file is a “self-contained” document, and usually has everything necessary to print the file, including necessary fonts. For this reason, all print files submitted to Smartpress are recommended to be in PDF format.

Borders on Artwork

If your artwork has a border, please make sure it is at least 1/4″ thick on all sides. 1/4″ is the minimum thickness; thicker borders tend to work better. Border thickness is important because if it is too thin, there is a risk that the border will be trimmed off and thickness will look uneven.

Color Accuracy

Smartpress will reproduce color from submitted print-ready files as closely as possible, but even under the best circumstances, an exact color match is not possible. This is an inherent limitation in the printing process. The term “color match” refers to the color rendering intent specified in the submitted artwork. If the artwork contains colors specified as Pantone spot colors, Smartpress will attempt to match the color as closely as possible. However, only a limited number of Pantone colors can be matched perfectly in the CMYK digital printing process.

Your Computer Monitor and Color

The artwork, as it appears on your computer screen, is almost certainly not accurate since every computer screen renders color differently. An on-screen proof cannot match the color or density of a printed piece. Even different programs on the same computer can render color differently. By placing an order with Smartpress, you agree to this limitation.

For these reasons, we cannot be responsible for color variations between submitted files and the final printed piece. If color is critical, you should request a hard proof, which will represent the output you can expect very closely.

UV Coating and Color

Application of UV or other coatings may affect or change the appearance of the printed colors; we cannot guarantee the final color appearance of a coated product.

General Color Information

Color is a big topic, but it does not have to be. We can work with output from almost any program as long as it is in PDF format. We can work with files in CMYK or RGB. Though it is not ideal, we can also work with a mix of both in one document. You should familiarize yourself with the sections on Color Accuracy and Spot Colors, for more specific information about color printing.


We realize some jobs will require an added level of attention. If you have any difficulties getting your file uploaded, have questions about other file types, file setup, or just a general inquiry, please contact a Smartpress representative at 1.888.934.6909 or email us at customerservice@smartpress.com.

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