Are Your Files “Print Ready”? 4 Things to Check

You may have heard the term “Print Ready” before, especially when providing us your own files to print. But do you know what “Print Ready” really means? Here are 4 things to check to make sure your files are ready for production.

Finished Size

Finished Size is the size of the print at the end of production when it’s all ready.

If you’re providing your own files, you should give us a file size that matches the Finished Size (unless your file requires bleed, which we’ll go over next.) So, if you want a 5” x 7” postcard it’s best to provide a file that is 5” x 7”, not 8.5” x 11”. We can scale your files to fit other sizes, but this can sometimes be tricky. Scaling should always be done proportionally, NEVER stretched. So, your 8.5” x 11” flyer may not reduce proportionally to a 5” x 7” postcard without having to put a white border around it.



Bleed is the area that extends out from the Finished Size. This area is cut off before you get the final product, but we may need a file with this area for production purposes.

If your file is on a white background, then a Bleed is not needed. But whenever color or a photo goes to the edge, a bleed is required.

We use a 1/8” bleed all the way around which adds 1/4” to the file’s size. So, for a 3.5” x 2” business card with Bleed, the file should measure 3.75” x 2.25”. Any color or background images should extend out to the 3.75” x 2.25” bounds.

Even though your file size is larger, the final product will be cut down to the finished size.


Margin is the area between the finished size and any text and/or non-bleed images on the print.

This area is needed so that any relevant content, like text, logos, etc. don’t get too close to the edge or cut off. For margins we recommend a minimum of 1/4” (3/16” for business cards.) The area inside the margins may also be referred to as the “safe zone.”


When dealing with Bleeds and Margins remember:
Bleed – measures from the Finished Size outward
Margin – measures from the Finished Size inward

Image Resolution

Resolution is the number of pixels over a 1” distance. When printing, a Resolution of 300 is preferred. This means that when you line up 300 of the pixels in a row it equals 1”.

Finding and image’s Resolution can be tricky. To get an idea of how an image will print without fancy software, first locate the image file on your computer. Look through the image’s properties for the dimensions in pixels. Divide these by 300 to get the size in inches for printing.

So, if you pull an image off the web that’s 1200 pixels wide by 600 pixels high, the preferred print size would be would be 4” x 2” or smaller.

* While a Resolution of 300 is preferred, 150 is the minimum. Divide the pixels by 150 to get the maximum size in inches.

When adjusting an image’s resolution there is a size vs. clarity trade off.

We check every file we get for print readiness, and if anything needs adjusting we will let you know. But checking these beforehand will help you avoid having to resend us a file, and also moves your job through production faster.

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