FAQ Full List

How do I get an estimate from you?

Since you are viewing this on our website, the most convenient way for you to get an estimate would be to click on the Get a Quote tab, which should be above. You could also access the Contact Us tab to obtain our phone, email, and address information if you prefer.

What is a proof and why is it important to look at?

In printing terms, a proof is a copy of your document after all modifications and printing setup processes have been completed. It is your best opportunity to make sure that the print job comes out the way you want. By carefully inspecting the proof, you can help us ensure an accurate, flawless, delivery of your print job.

What file format should I use when submitting electronic files to you for printing?

Ideally, the design files should be saved in a print-ready format. These include PDF, illustrator AI or EPS, and TIFF files.

PDF (Portable Document Format) is the most common and preferred file format for submitting digital documents. With the installation of a PDF print driver on your computer, virtually any program can generate a PDF file suitable for printing. Both commercial and free PDF print drivers are available online for download from different sources.

In our shop, we also use several different programs, any of which we can accept the files from. These include: Adobe InDesign, Quark Express, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe PageMaker, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Powerpoint.

What is the preferred industry standard software for page layout and design?

Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress, and Adobe PageMaker have many features that make them the most efficient in both file creation and final output within a professional printing environment. In addition, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop are useful in creating logos and single page layouts, and in editing photos. Microsoft Publisher can be used, but they create some challenges and are therefore less recommended. MS Word is a word processing program and really not ideal for the printing process, especially with multi-color work. MS Powerpoint was originally designed primarily for on-screen use and is therefore also not ideal for print projects.

What is a bleed, and why should I include it?

If you have text, photos, or really anything appearing on a page in your document that go all the way to the edge of the sheet, we will need a bleed in order to print. A bleed means that the photo, text, color block, etc, continues past the edge of the sheet by at least 1/8 inch (.125 in). This will ensure that the images that bleed will appear to go to the edge of the sheet when trimmed will definitely bleed off the edge and there won’t be any gap between it and the edge.

It should also be noted that for any printed piece, anything that does NOT bleed should not get any closer than 1/8 inch (.125 in). This will ensure that anything that should not bleed will not accidentally get cut off during a trim.

My files print just fine on my printer. Why doesn’t it work for you?

In order for us to successfully output your file, all the elements that were used to create your file (i.e. all the correct fonts, linked graphics, etc) must be provided to us. We cannot guarantee that your job will come out as intended if we have not been given all the elements required for the job.

What is the proper resolution for scanning line art or text?

1200 dpi is the standard resolution for scanning these types of originals.

What is the proper resolution for scanning a photograph intended for use in a printed piece, and how large should I scan it?

300 dpi or greater is the standard resolution for scanning a continuous tone image (such as a photograph). An image should be scaled to no smaller than the size at which it will be used in the piece. Scanning it larger than the final size won’t do any harm. Furthermore, if the image is to be used more than once at various sizes, it should be scanned at the largest size. Scanned graphics cannot retain resolution when scaled up (made larger than the original scanned).

Why can’t I simply open a low resolution (i.e. less than 300 dpi) graphic in Photoshop and increase the resolution to 300 dpi if that is what you need?

When an image is already at 72 dpi, the amount of detail and sharpness that is in the original at that low resolution is much less than the amount of detail and sharpness of data in an image that is 300 dpi or higher at creation. Increasing the resolution to a low-resolution image will not put back detail and sharpness that was not captured or created in the first place, its merely adding more pixels to a low-quality image. The image must either be rescanned at a higher resolution, or an original of higher resolution must be found.

What is an embedded graphic and why is it bad to use them?

An embedded graphic is a read-only copy of the graphic in a page layout file, which means it cannot be opened by the original application that created it. Therefore we cannot make any changes to the graphic that may be needed, or the program may not be able to successfully render it in print. If the page layout or illustration program you are using allows you to embed placed graphics and you have chosen to use this option, you should still include the original external graphic file with the job. This gives us the ability to perform any manipulation to the graphic that may be needed or desired (color conversion or color separation, for instance), and will ensure that the program will be able to find the original data to send to the press.

Why does a graphic image taken off the web look ragged when printed?

Graphics that are meant to be viewed over the internet are typically saved in a low resolution format (such as a .jpg, .gif, or .png) because this creates a small file size which allows for faster downloading. The resolution of these files is typically about 72 dpi, which is insufficient resolution for high quality printing. When there is a continuous-tone original available to scan, an image should be rendered at 300 dpi or greater when it is intended to be used in a printed piece. This helps capture the maximum amount of detail. Also, if a graphic was originally created in a program such as Illustrator or Freehand, we would ideally need that original file, not the one into which it was converted for the web.

Why is it important that I include my fonts with my job, can’t you just substitute your versions of the fonts?

We may not have some or all of the fonts you used. Also, fonts carry programming information that can affect how the lines of text break and determines how the characters appear on the screen and on the page when it prints. These characteristics can vary from font foundry to font foundry, so substituting our different version of a particular font (such as Times) may cause undesirable changes to the way the text flows within the document and the appearance of the final output.

What font files need to be sent with my job, and how do I collect them?

If your files were created on a Macintosh and you are using Postscript Type 1 fonts, you will need to send both the printer fonts and the screen fonts; with Truetype fonts, there are no separate printer and screen font files to worry about. These files will most likely be found in the “Fonts” folder located inside your Mac’s system folder. Simply highlight the fonts you need to collect, and drag them to the folder or disk onto which you are going to copy the fonts, while holding down the option key. Please note that it is critical to hold down the option key in this process or you may move the fonts instead of copying them to an additional location.

If your files were created on a PC, the most common font format is Truetype (.ttf files). These files will most likely be found in the fonts folder located inside your PC’s Windows folder. If you are using Postscript Type 1 fonts, you will need to send both the printer fonts and the screen fonts (there will be 2 files with the same name, except for the extension of .pfb and .pfm). Simply highlight the fonts you need to collect, click Edit–>Copy in your Windows Explorer window, move to the folder or disk onto which you are going to copy the fonts, and select Edit–>Paste in your Windows Explorer window.

If you are using layout programs InDesign or Quark you can also “collect” the fonts (and necessary links) all at once. For InDesign you will need to open the file and have everything ready and then go to File–>Package and follow the prompts. For Quark you will need to go to File–>Collect for Output and follow the prompts.

What is “turning fonts to outline”?

In some situations, you may want to “turn your fonts to outline” instead of providing us with the fonts required to print your job. This is mostly useful if the font is having issues, if you are having trouble sending us the font, or if the font seems to get corrupted whenever you try to send it to us. Once you turn your fonts to outline, they basically become individual shapes in the form of the letters, so they become uneditable once you do so, please make sure you save a copy of your original file before you attempt this. Since they become shapes in the form of letters, it also has the disadvantage of not allowing us to edit your work should you discover any typos in the proof in the proof we send you before we proceed to print. Please keep this in mind before deciding if this will be advantageous for your work before you send it to us.

If you are using a layout program such as Illustrator, InDesign or Quark, are worried about getting us the font files, and are certain that there will be no further text edits, you can always turn the fonts to outline. We would recommend saving the file with a new name (perhaps include the term “outlined” at the end of the new name) first. Then, depending on the program, you will either need to highlight the text you want turned to outline, or select the text box that includes the text you want turned to outline. After that it is just a matter of finding the “turn to outline” function in your program, which may be under the “Type” or “Object” header for InDesign. For Quark you should go to Item–>Convert Text to Boxes.

Why do the printed colors look different from the colors on my screen?

In short, printers and monitors produce colors in different ways.

Monitors use the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color model, which usually supports a wider spectrum of colors. Printers use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK) color model, which can reproduce most–but not all–of the colors in the RGB color model. Depending on the equipment used, CMYK generally matches 85-90% of the colors in the RGB model.

When a color is selected from the RGB model that is out of the range of the CMYK model, the application chooses what it thinks is the closest color that will match. Programs like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop will allow you to choose which color will be replaced, others may not.

In addition to this, monitors display color with light shining through it. Printed pieces display color with light shining on it. Printed pieces may also appear to have their color shift slightly depending on what light source you are using (i.e. it may look different in bright noon daylight than it would by a fluorescent bulb or a 60 watt yellow lamp, etc).

If you require very specific colors in your piece, we highly recommend choosing your colors using a hardcopy swatch from the Pantone Matching System, and to print your piece using one of our presses rather than our high resolution color copiers. The press will use an ink that matches the PMS swatch you choose. Our high resolution color copiers can match most PMS colors very closely, but since they use CMYK toner, it must convert the PMS colors to an approximation of that color using CMYK, so the end piece will only closely match the desired color. “

What is the Pantone Matching System?

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a color reproduction standard in which colors all across the spectrum are each identified by a unique, independent number. The use of PMS allows us to precisely match colors and maintain color consistency throughout the printing process.

Why should we put barcodes on addresses?

“The primary reason is money. The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers significant discounts for mail that is prepared to utilize its automated scanning and sorting equipment.

The secondary reason is also money. The USPS has invested heavily in automating their processing facilities, and in order to achieve their efficiency levels, they must put as much mail as they can through that system. Automated mail is processed at a much higher production rate. Therefore, it gets through the sorting facility faster and arrives at the destination Post Office much sooner. And, as we all know, time equals money.”

What is NCOA?

NCOA stands for “National Change Of Address”. It is the file that the USPS maintains for individuals or businesses that have notified them that they have moved. These “move update” records are active for one year, during which time the USPS forwards mail entering their system from the old address to the new address. The NCOA file is not only useful for updating your database of names and addresses, it is required if you are doing “Automated Rate” mailings.

What does CASS Certify mean?

CASS is a USPS acronym for Coding Accuracy Support System, which essentially means that your names and addresses have been compared to the national database or addresses authorized by the Postal Service, and that the correct +4 zip code extension and delivery point barcode information have been appended. The bottom line is that you can process CASS certified names and addresses at the discounted “automated rate” postage.

Tips & Resources

Fonts

Basic Font Information

Mac Platform

Microsoft Platform

A Few Commercial Font Libraries
(If you purchase any fonts through these sites, please make sure you get the correct font for your computer–Mac vs. PC–and that you are purchasing the appropriate licenses for commercial use. Also, if you intend to use these fonts for printing, do not purchase a web font)

MyFonts

Adobe Type

Emigre Fonts

A Few Free Font Libraries
(If you download any fonts through these sites, please make sure you get the correct font for your computer–Mac vs. PC–and that they come with the the appropriate licenses for commercial use. Also, please make sure they are not web fonts, which are specifically created for use on websites not in printed materials.)

Chank Fonts

Larabie Fonts

1,001 Free Fonts

dafont

Software

Please check the manufacturer’s website for detailed information on any software or hardware you are interested in purchasing. A few of the most popular sites are listed below for your convenience:
Apple
Microsoft
Adobe
Quark
Adobe Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free if you do not already have it. Acrobat Reader allows you to view any pdf on your computer.

Preparing Files to Print

If you are sending us the original file to print from and it is not a pdf, we may need more files than just the original file. For instance, if you are using Adobe InDesign, Quark Express, or Microsoft Publisher, when you open the file on your machine everything should look just fine. It may not look correct on another computer if the next computer to open that file does not have the fonts installed on that machine or if there are images that appear in the file that are not also included.

To ensure that everything looks correct and prints how you would like it to, please make sure that you also send us a folder containing all the fonts that are used in your document and a folder that contains all the “links” (any photo or illustration that may appear in the file, preferably of high resolution).

Both Adobe InDesign and Quark Express have commands within them to “package” all these files for you, so that all you will need to do is make sure they are all there and zip them up to email or upload to us. Otherwise, you may need to find the originals on your machine and copy them to a new folder to upload to us.

Tips on Scanning Photos or Documents for Print

When scanning a photo or a document that you would like to print, or would like to include as part of another document, please keep these things in mind:
The higher the resolution (sometimes known as “DPI” or “dots per inch”), the greater the quality of the photo or document, and the less likely it will appear blurry or pixellated in the final print out. However, the higher the resolution, the larger the file as well. This means it may take some time to complete scanning and you may wind up with a file that is too large to email. You may need to upload it via ftp or place it on a flash drive to bring to us.

Generally, the lowest resolution you should scan an image or document at with the intention of printing it should be 300 DPI. Even larger than that, would of course, be best, especially if you need the printed version to appear larger than the image you are scanning. But of course, the higher the dpi you scan it at, the longer it will take to scan and the larger a file you will have once it is completed scanning, so you will need to decide how large a file you are willing to work with.

Raster Graphics vs. Vector Graphics

Graphics on a computer usually come in one of two types, Raster or Vector. Raster images are made up of tiny squares of color called pixels to create a whole–such as a photo. Vector images use mathematical algorithms to create a formula by which the image (usually a drawing such as a logo) can be scaled indefinitely.

Raster images can have varying levels of resolution which can affect how the final printed piece looks. If it is low resolution (generally anything lower than 300 dpi, or “dots per inch”) then it may print somewhat pixellated. Anything that is between 72 dpi to 150 dpi is considered “web quality” resolution, which for the purposes of printing is usually too low resolution. Anything that is 300 dpi or larger is considered “press quality” and should print without any pixellation in the final piece–as long as the image does not need to be scaled up to be larger. It should be mentioned that these resolution points are based on the original file, if you have a low quality image you cannot go into it and manually put in a higher resolution and expect it to print correctly. If it is a low resolution image more resolution cannot thereafter be “added” to keep pixellation or fuzziness of the final image from occurring.

Common raster image formats include PSD, JPG, TIF, GIF, and PNG. PSD, JPG, and TIF formats are frequently higher resolution and be used in print. GIF and PNG formats are most commonly used for web quality graphics and may not provide the ideal resolution needed for printing. They are typically photos or bitmap imagery. Typically the higher quality resolution the larger the file size, and the lower quality the resolution, the smaller the file size. So the small file size may be perfect for working on the web and easier to email and carry around with you, but for the best prints you really want the larger files, even if that means you must send them to us separately on our ftp site or burn them to CD.

Vector images are usually created in programs such as Adobe Illustrator. They are typically line based drawings which the program can create an algorithm in which it understands how to enlarge or shrink the image nearly indefinitely without any loss of data and should print perfectly without having to worry about pixellation. Common vector image formats include AI and EPS. Since it uses a mathematical algorithm in which to scale the image, the file size is based more on the complexity of the drawings that are rendered and generally aren’t as drastically small or large in size as raster images.

It should be noted that while you can change the extension of a file (in the file name, simply change the extension from JPG to PNG or TIF to EPS), when you do so it will not conveniently change the file itself to a higher resolution image. And while you can change a vector image into a raster image by saving it as a new format such as saving it from an EPS to a JPG, you will want to make sure you save it as a high resolution image, and the process is not reversible (you cannot change a JPG into a vector based AI, it will just be an AI file that is raster based instead).

File Compression and “Zipping” Files

Sometimes you may notice that the file or files you need to send us are too large to email. The easiest way to reduce the size of your file(s) is to zip it. Below are directions for how to zip a file on the Mac and how to zip a file on the PC. Once you have a zipped file ready and waiting, you may be able to email the new file. If it is still too large to email, we recommend sending it to us via our ftp site or putting it on a flash drive.

Mac

To zip a file on the mac, first place the file or files in an easy to find location such as the desktop. If there are multiple files, you should place all the files in a common folder and name the folder something easy to remember such as “Files for Optima.” Once you have all of your files in the folder, all you should need to do is right click on your mouse (or press the control key on your keyboard while clicking the mouse if your mouse does not have a right click option) and navigate to the menu option Compress “Folder Name” . Once you hit the compress option it should automatically start to zip the folder into a single file with the folder name and a “.zip” extension. If you have multiple files selected it will zip them all into one file, and will likely zip into a file called “Archive.zip”

PC

To zip a file on the mac, first place the file or files in an easy to find location such as the desktop. If there are multiple files, you should place all the files in a common folder and name the folder something easy to remember such as “Files for Optima.” Once you have all of your files in the folder, all you should need to do is right click on your mouse and navigate to the menu option Send To which should pop up with a secondary drop down menu. On the secondary drop down menu you should select Compressed (zipped) folder . Once you select that, it should automatically start zipping your files into a new zipped file with the same name as the folder, but with the “.zip” extension.

Sometimes it is easier or more secure to purchase a program that can zip or otherwise compress files for you. Here are a few of the available options currently on the market.

Windows
ALZip
StuffIt Deluxe for Windows
WinRAR (32-bit)
WinZip Pro 17

Mac
MacZip for Mac
StuffIt Deluxe for Mac