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Do it yourself is cost effective, right? Unfortunately what you see is not always what you get. Thankfully Matthews is here to help!


The demands on businesses are very different today than they were years ago. Many of us are being asked to multi-task and fill needs in areas out of our comfort zone. The desktop publishing explosion is a prime example. In hopes of lowering costs and effectively trimming our marketing budgets, many business choose to keep communications internal. The problem is many employees which excel in other areas learn how painfully exhausting it is to put together a quality publication. Training and experience helps! As industry professionals, we choose to support you in your endeavor. To keep your design looking crisp and your cost down, there are some guidelines you can follow. We have put together a list of do's and don'ts as well as some tips and tricks to help get you started in the right direction.

If you have any questions unanswered by our FAQ list, please contact us and we will be glad to help.

Design and Printer Jargon

The Alphabet Soup of Design and Print Lingo


BLEED – This is the area of your image which trims off in the cutting process in order to allow your document to maintain full color to the edge of the sheet. It is typical to allow an extra 1/8" - 1/4" of image around all four sides of your document. (Example: If your documents final size is 8 1/2" x 11" then your file should be set up to accommodate that space at 8 3/4" x 11 1/4".)


TRIM – This is the finished size of your final document once it is trimmed and the excess bleed has been cut away.


SAFE AREA – When creating a document with text or content that is too close to the trim edge, you run the risk of cutting away important information. To be safe, always allow yourself an invisible margin of at least 1/8" from the trim or final document size in order to produce a professional design.


RESOLUTION – This is the quality of the image you will be producing. For print design, you should always start with a high resolution image. Resolution can always be lowered but never increased. Most image editing software allows you to determine the resolution of your image, which should be 300dpi at 100% of it's final size. (Example: If you have a photo or image that is 3" x 5" saved at 300dpi and you scale that same image up to 6" x 10" you will encounter loss or image blurring.) Always keep your image resolution at 300dpi at no more than 100% of the image's size. 


DPI – Dots Per Inch. If you zoom in on an image you will discover that it is made of up of tiny squares called pixels. The more pixels you have per inch the greater the clarity of the image when printing in dots per inch. (Example: If you only have 72 pixels per inch that will not be as clear as the same photo with 300 per inch. Thus the difference between 72dpi and 300dpi.)


RASTER FILE – A raster file is basically any photographic image that is resolution dependant (from a photograph to custom piece of art). 

Raster files include images such as, .TIFF, .JPEG, .GIF, .PNG and .BMP.


VECTOR FILE – A vector file is a mathmatically generated image. All logos, line art, shapes and illustrations should be saved in this format.

The benefit with a vector file is that you can freely scale the document in size, either up or down, without loss of resolution. These file types include .AI, .EPS, .FHD, and .CDR and are generated originally in a program such as Illustrator or Freehand.


CMYK – Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key or Black. All process printing incorporates these four colors, thus the terms four-color printing or process color. All images and photos that will be reproduced in process printing should be converted to CMYK and saved in this format.


RGB – Stands for Red, Green, Blue. RGB is the default setting for most image manipulation software because it offers a broader spectrum of color variation for on-screen view (web, presentations, etc). Although this may be the intial state of your design, be sure to convert it to CMYK before saving for press. Why? Because CMYK or printing inks are limited in their scope of reproducing the RGB spectrum. The best way to see what your image will look like when it is printed is to make this conversion.


SPOT COLOR or PMS – The Pantone Matching System® is the industry standard for color selection when printing specific ink color(s). If your piece is being reproduced on press using a specific ink color, it should be selected before design begins. This is common with one or two color projects where you are matching a specific corporate color in a logo.


COLLECT FOR OUTPUT – This is the process of including all images, art, fonts and text used in creating your document. Save all of these items on your CD, file folder, or jump drive before sending it to your printer. 


PAGINATION – When creating a book or multiple page document, most software, by default, will set up your document in what is commonly referred to as readers spreads, one page after the next. However, this format is not how the final product will be printing. Printing utilizes what we call signatures, which pair the correctly corresponding pages with one another, so that the end product reads correctly. (Example: in an 8 page document, pages 8 and 1 would print together in that order, 2 and 7, 6 and 3, etc...) To avoid incorrectly paginating your program or book, it is always best to set up a multi-page document in single pages, 1, 2, 3, etc. and allow your printer to paginate your document.

Software selection

What should I use? And when? Knowing the right tools for the right job.

Can Microsoft Word or Publisher be used? The answer is yes! We take all file types and don't expect our customers to have a working knowledge of advanced design and print software. To print the best possible design and format from these programs, it is important to know their limitations. See below for details about working in Microsoft Publisher or Word:

When working in Publisher

  • Maintain correct document size

  • Work in single pages

  • Import quality graphics (see Resolution in Design & Printer Jargon)

  • Limit font usage to more standard or well known typefaces

  • Save and send a copy of your original Publisher file along with a high resolution & press quality PDF

When working in Microsoft Word

  • Use the default 8 1/2" x 11" document size

  • Set all of your text in a standard font

  • Avoid using spaces, rather use the tabbing features

  • Do not import your images! Save them separately to a CD, flash drive, or email them to your Sales Rep. Our graphics and pre-press department will reconstruct your layout properly without losing the quality of your images. 

Page Layout Software

QUARK – Long recognized as the industry standard when it comes to layout and text editing. Its uses should be for setting text and page layout.


INDESIGN – An equal counterpart to Quark. It works seamlessly within the Adobe® Suite. It too should be used for layout and adding text.

Image Manipulation Software

PHOTOSHOP – A software that truly has no equal. The standard bearer for all imaging for over two decades. Photoshop is really worth the investment if you plan on working with and manipulating imagery.

Vector Creation Software

ILLUSTRATOR – The perfect complement to your layout process when you need clean, crisp resizable lines. Logos, icons, geometric shapes and designs should all be authored in this software.

FREEHAND – Very similar to Illustrator. Freehand allows you to create vector based images that contain postscript transparency and scalable graphics.

COREL DRAW – Not as user friendly as the two previous packages in its postscript exporting, Corel Draw stills serves as a viable application when you need to create vector images. 

Determining the correct page size

No matter the style every document needs to start out with page size 

Whether you're designing a business card, a brochure or a multi-page newsletter it is important to take size into consideration. How much content do I have? Will there be bleeding images? How should my margins or panels be sized? These are all critical questions that should be answered early in the design process. They will make the build go much smoother. Almost any layout can benefit from the golden rules:


  1. Determine the final trim size, or final document size (see Design & Printer Jargon).

  2. Allowing for a safe area for all text and visuals.

  3. Factoring in size for bleed within the document.

  4. Determine the margins for the document.

  5. Allow for equal spacing if the document folds.


Below is an example showing the guidelines of a standard 11" x 8 1/2" tri-fold brochure. Please note the bleed, trim, safe area, margins and folds. Applying this method to a document of any size will ensure that your finished product is exactly what you originally envisioned. 

























For your convenience, see below for just a few standard Quark templates for you to download. 

Image preparation

Let us teach you how to create sharp, crisp photos and images

When working with photos of any sort there are some key things to remember. You want the image to have the highest resolution as possible.

This will give you versitility when sizing and editing the photo for your layout. You will want the richest color content and to maintain as much clarity as possible.


Digital images contain many mega-pixels when captured at their highest settings. This is a plus and you will want to be sure to save all of your images that will be used in print in this format, typically labled as "RAW" on most cameras. Capturing RAW photos ensures that you have the maximum data possible when you begin the editing process. Although saved at 72dpi the images are large, some as big as 32" x 28". When converting the resolution to 300dpi, the size will decrease and this is okay.


When working from a scanned image it is important to know which settings to use on the scanner. For photographic images you will scan at 300dpi in RGB format and save as .TIFF or .JPEG files. When scanning black and white line art it is important to scan at 1200dpi in a line art setting and save as a .TIFF file.


Now that you have your image and have opened it in your image editing software you will want to decide how large you will be using it in your layout. For example, if it is a 20" x 28" photo at 72dpi in it's original format, your first step will be to change the resolution to 300dpi. 












You will notice that when you uncheck "Resample Image" and type in 300dpi that the image is automatically reduced to 5" x 7". Now you can begin working with your image knowing it will reproduce at the highest quality possible. After you have made any edits, color corrections or adjustments, there are still two final steps before saving your image.



First, change the working color area from RGB to CMYK. Second, add a slight sharpening effect to enhance the image after editing and prevent blurring. These steps are displayed below:














Now you can save your file in the appropriate format and you're done! For any raster file that is going to be a .TIFF file or a .JPEG file, it is important when saving to select the highest settings. For instance, if saving as a .JPEG, be sure to choose a Quality of 12 or Maximum from the drop down menu.

For images that will be reproduced in black ink or one color - all of the above applies with the exception of the color conversion process. Instead of converting from RGB to CMYK, you will simply select Grayscale. 


Stock Image Links
ThinkStock   |   Shutterstock   |   iStockPhoto   |   StockXchng

Font selction can be simplified by following some basic principles 

Here are some hints that will ease your dilemma when selecting a font. Keep it simple and limit the number of fonts that you use in a layout. Find a nice, legible font for your copy and something different to add distinction to your headings. Make sure that they compliment one another and create contrast between the two. Adding variations to exemplify specific announcements, areas or subjects within your layout are also acceptable. Avoid overpopulating your document with an abundance of variations. Doing this will insure that your areas of interest stand out and don't get lost.


When selecting a font type, know that there are three standard file types, Postscript, TrueType, and OpenSource. Postscript is the most reliable and widespread. TrueType typically comes preloaded with applications and can at times reproduce erratically. OpenSource is a relatively new format which is gaining popularity due to it's cross-platform capability (works with Mac OSX and Windows equally well.).


Font Links

DaFont   |   Fontspace   |

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