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Label Printing: When You Only Have a Bitmap File

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Sometimes the file you want printed will be a bitmap rather then a vector file. You can still get a great quality print from a bitmap by remembering to do a few things before submitting your artwork.

The best bitmap file type to submit to your printer is a .tif file. A .tif file is uncompressed and translates color accurately. If a .tif file is not available, a .jpg is the next best file format. Other bitmap file types, such as .gif and .png are best avoided for printing as they are generally web based file types and will be poor quality and low resolution for printing.

Perhaps the most important thing when supplying a bitmap for print is to make sure it is at least 300 dpi at the final print size. Anything less will usually be rejected by your print company because the final product will be pixilated and poor quality.

It is to your benefit to supply all bitmap images in CMYK rather then RGB as the print company will be printing your file in CMYK. There can be a significant color shift between RGB (a web color format) and CMYK. In order to be sure your file will print the way you expect it to, convert it to CMYK (or better yet, create the file in CMYK) yourself to make sure you are happy with any color shifts that may have occurred.

If your file will be printed with a bleed (meaning that printed color goes right to the edge of the label – in part or whole) it is helpful to supply any flattened bitmap files with a bleed already built in, especially if the bleed contains any gradients. Most printers work with a 1/8th inch bleed. To avoid any potential confusion just let your print company know your bitmap contains the bleed.

Submit your bitmap with all the colors properly assigned. Changing colors in a flattened bitmap is not always a simple task, and leaving colors unassigned leaves them up to interpretation by the prepress technician. Assigning your own colors will help to insure that you will receive the color you expect.

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