Understanding the Basics With most print jobs, you have specifications that you have to follow. These specs work for preparing advertisements, brochures, business cards, and other printed mediums. CYMK vs RGB A lot of the colors you create in RGB mode are not achievable using standard four-color process printing. It is always best to create your document from the start in CMYK color mode to ensure that you have a better idea of how your colors are going to print. Four over Four (or 4/4) If you’re printing a flyer, you might be printing 4/4 (CMYK), which essentially means you are printing four color on the front and four color on the back. If nothing’s on the back, then it would be 4/0. Using Spot Color If you need more vibrant colors or exact color matching (e.g. for consistent company branding) than what CMYK inks produce, spot colors/PMS colors is the way to go. VECTOR vs RASTER A raster graphic is an image made of hundreds (or thousands or millions) of tiny squares of color information, referred to as either pixels or dots. (Technically pixels refer to color blocks viewed on an electronic monitor where as dots refer to the ink dots on a printed piece. But a lot of people often use these two terms interchangeably.) The most common type of raster graphic? A photograph. The most used program for creating and editing raster files is Adobe Photoshop. Popular raster file format extensions include: jpg, psd, png, tiff, bmp and gif. A vector graphic uses math to draw shapes using points, lines and curves. So whereas a raster image of a 1” x 1” square at 300 dpi will have 300 individuals pieces of information, a vector image will only contain four points, one for each corner; the computer will uses math to “connect the dots” and fill in all of the missing information. The most common types of vector graphics? Fonts and logos. These are created using programs such as Adobe Illustrator. Popular vector file format extensions include: eps, ai and pdf. PRINT LAYOUT Trim Line: This is the finished size of the piece. Live Area: The area that is considered safe to keep any important information within. For example, if an ad’s trim size is 8.5 in × 11 in, the live area might be 8 in × 10.5 in. This takes into consideration the binding if the ad is placed on the left or right of a spread and you don’t want copy to be unreadable if it is too close to the spine. Bleed Area: The minimum bleed you need for a printed piece is 0.125 in (1/8 in). If you are working with an image in Photoshop and you’re placing it in InDesign for print preparation, keep in mind the area you might need to use for the bleed. Crop Marks: Indicates where to cut the paper. Fonts: To avoid any font issues you can outline fonts or include them when sending the print ready file. Saving your document as a print ready pdf also avoids fonts issues.