Label Printing – How To Supply Your Artwork

There are a few things you can do when preparing your files to ensure they print the way you envision…

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The absolute best file format (especially for logos, type and simple graphics) is a vector-based file created in a program like Adobe Illustrator. File extensions include .ai, .eps and .pdf (a PDF must be an editable PDF, otherwise it has to be treated like a bitmap).

Vector files are great because they provide a lot of flexibility. There is no print size limitation (as there is with every bitmap file), colors can be changed extremely easily, and elements can be moved around and altered for each new use.

It is important to make sure all text is converted to outlines. By doing so you can avoid a lot of future frustration and needless back and forth with your print company if the file contains a font they do not have in their system. By sending text in outlines you are also maintaining control over the final look of your text since any accidental font changes can be avoided. It doesn’t hurt to email the font along with your file either, in case any changes need to be made to your text.

Color is a very important aspect of printing. Colors do not always print the way they are displayed on the computer. If color is important to your design, assign a PMS value to every element in your design. By providing the print company with PMS values, you are allowing them to compare and correct colors if necessary to provide you with the colors you want.

If you cannot provide PMS values, ensure the file is supplied in CMYK. When a file is submitted in RGB, it has to be converted to CMYK before being printed. These two color spaces contain different color gamuts and depending on the colors, there can be major shifts when converting from RGB to CMYK. If your file is supplied in RGB and printed in CMYK, you may not like what you get. Avoid this disappointment and create your design in CMYK or preferably, with PMS values.

If your design is going to touch the edge of the label, it has to be printed with a bleed. Bleeds are 1/8th inch on each side on the label outside the cutline. If your bleed contains intricate artwork that extends beyond 1/8th inch, it creates extra work for the printing company, which you may be charged for. Avoid clipping masks (they don’t solve the problem on the printer’s end, they just make the artboard look tidy) and remove the unwanted bleed extension.

To avoid any confusion for the printer, make sure the file you have submitted does not have additional elements or design ideas surrounding the artboard or hidden on additional layers.

It never hurts to call your printing company for clarification if you have any questions or concerns about how to prepare your file for printing. A well-prepared file means a smooth and issue-free printing experience for your printing company and most importantly, you.

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