Preparing a Print-Ready File – Part 1

Preparing a Print-Ready File
Sean Akhlaghi 

Sean Akhlaghi

What should you know about preparing print ready file?

Today’s technology and familiarity of more individuals with computers and software programs have made it more convenient to create artwork for printing. Despite user friendliness of many programs, still, certain details and expertise needed to make printing of that file a success.

Obviously, not all software programs are created equal; each program varies in its capabilities and ease of use. Despite the capabilities of each software, lack of understanding of print production concepts and the process will limit the software’s functionality and file’s integrity. In many cases, the print provider adjusts the artwork to bring it to print production standards, without the client’s knowledge.

The first rule of design is not to leave your artwork at the mercy of someone else. Each artwork has an intention and vision defined by the person who has created it, and nobody else can be expected to see the exact vision or thought process for creation of the artwork. Moving, adjusting and modifying of artwork without understanding it will change the original intent to a point of destruction of the intended idea.

For anybody who wants to design is not to leave the artwork incompatible with print production standard or hope the print provider will fix the issues. Another word, create your artwork in a manner that no modification and touch-up required to make your file print ready.

Many elements can influence creation, preparation and print production of a file.


The most important thing you need to know about fonts is that there are a lot of them, and each manufacturer may make them with different standards. So, a simple font like “Bulmer” from one manufacturer may have different character spacing than the other (of course it is less likely on most popular fonts than the specialty fonts). There are post script, True type and open Type fonts and of course if the font is for Mac or Windows platforms. Also, you need to accept the fact that whatever fonts that have come with your computer, it may not have come with your print provider’s computer. When you install software, some fonts get installed on your computer, while your print provider may not have installed that software or fonts.

Since you want to make sure the same font style is in the final product and given the possibility the print provider may not have them, the best practice is to provide the fonts to your Print provider. Usually, the desktop publishing software has a feature allowing the collection and packing of fonts. If your program does not have this capability or fonts are not included in the packed font folder, you can do it manually.

For Windows, you can copy (make sure to copy) fonts from the font folder in the control panel by selecting the fonts>edit>Copy and going to a designated folder that you are collecting and past it. On a Mac, either use Font Book to copy fonts or copy from the font folder directly. Pending on the version of your OS, it may vary, but it usually can be found under users>library>fonts. Just remember there are four to five font folders in OSX and you want to be careful which folder you are accessing. Regardless of platform, make sure to collect all variations of the fonts (bold, Semibold, italic, bold-italic, and regular…) that you used in your document, On Windows, if you are using a postscript font, you want to make sure to collect both *.pfm and *.pfb (the screen and printer fonts). Unlike True Type or Open Type, the Postscript fonts are in two parts, and they need to be installed together to make a functional font. For example, if you are using a postscript version of “Times New Roman”, you want to make sure to collect both Times New Roman.pfm” and Times New Roman.pfb”.

There are few things to consider when you are selecting a font style to use in your artwork. If the font does not have “Italic”, “Bold” or other variations, don’t use the software’s bold or italic feature to make your font that way. Despite the advances in rendering the fonts at the print stage, some fonts may not work which could result in either showing the regular version of that font style or as a symbol character. The best practice is to choose a font style that has all of the variants available for your use.