Digital File Specs

Supplying electronic files ...

... what you see isn't always what you get!

At Papyrus Printing, we are finding that many of our clients are designing their own jobs. Since we would like to give you the best results possible when printing them, you can help us by following the general graphics and software guidelines listed below. Additional time required by our prepress department to fix or rebuild files will be charged at our standard rates.

General Pre-Press & File Guidelines

We have hundreds of fonts available on our workstations, but even common fonts like Helvetica or Arial have many different versions, and may vary from computer to computer. If you are unsure how to include your fonts or convert to vector curves, call us before sending your files.

Black or K

Computer monitors and television sets use RGB colour mode to simulate the range of visible colours - each pixel is made up of Red, Green & Blue (RGB). When a colour job is printed, there are 4 colours to recreate the spectrum: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black (CMYK). Some software (such as Microsoft Word) only uses RGB colour - i.e. what appears to be black text on your screen prints Cyan, Magenta, Yellow AND Black - which just creates a big mess of too much ink.

Pantone colours

If your job contains only 2 or 3 colours, you will likely choose Pantone numbers for the inks. Check that all Pantone colours use the same name - sometimes different programs will refer to the same colour by slightly different names, i.e. Pantone 347 CVC and Pantone 347. As well, not all colours can be accurately reproduced using the CMYK process - in particular fluorescents and metallic shades can only be produced using offset printing. Feel free to drop by our shop and confirm the colour you want is the same one that is specified in your files - again, the colour you see represented on an RGB computer monitor may not be the same as the solid ink colour on paper.


In order to get a finished printed piece where the ink extends off the paper, the artwork is printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down to size. If you do not allow for a 1/8" bleed, any misalignment during printing creates the possibility of an unwanted white edge around the finished product during cutting. When allowing for bleeds in your design, make sure your page size is your final trim size, and then extend any graphics or backgrounds past the page edge by 1/8". Make sure if you are saving as a PDF that bleeds are turned on in your print/save settings.


Always use the highest resolution setting on your phone/camera when taking photos that will be reproduced in print. Photos which may look great on your phone or monitor may be too low in quality to use for print - especially photos taken from your website. Your image will appear fuzzy. If you are Googling images, make sure you search for large images and do not select ones that are copyrighted. If you are sending us photos from your mobile device make sure you select 'original size' if given the option.


Scan colour and grayscale photos at 300 dpi, and bitmap (line art) graphics at 1200 dpi. Avoid scanning from printed works (postcards, magazines, newspapers) if possible - your scanner will pick up the halftone patterns and may cause unintended moire effects. If you are unsure of the quality of your images or do not have access to a scanner, we can scan your original photographs or plug in your digital camera, just don't forget to bring the cord!


When you have your original document images and fonts collected in one folder, you can use a compression utility such as Stuffit or WinZip to compress the folder. Files up to 5 MB can be sent as an email attachment, and files up to 100 MB can be sent through the Send a File feature on our website. If your job is larger than 100 MB we will require a USB/CD.

Graphics Software Guidelines

Photoshop files should be flattened for best results. Avoid designing complete documents in Photoshop - text and logos should always be added in a layout program to avoid rough or "pixelated" edges. High-resolution JPGs are usually acceptable, but most images taken from the internet are only 72 dpi and are not suitable for print reproduction. The JPG file format has been designed to allow very high compression ratios, but as the file size gets smaller, the quality decreases considerably. If you have no other options than to save in JPG format, make sure the compression is set as low as possible (larger file size).

We love PDFs. If at all possible send us one as your final artwork. Include crop marks and bleeds. Be aware we may not be able to make edits afterwards though. If you can select "print-quality" or "press-quality" in the PDF settings please do so. This will make a higher quality file. PDF files that are created with the default "web-only" settings, and are not suitable for high-quality reproduction. While the PDF is by design a very compatible and universal format, there are several output settings that need to be checked to ensure high quality output:

Fonts: Always check "Include all fonts" and "Subset Embedded Fonts @ 100%" in your settings. If the font has not been saved properly within the PDF it may print out at our end with a substituted font instead. (You can always send it along with your file).

Images: One crucial difference between a "web" PDF and a "press" PDF is the compression on the photos in your job. While they both might look good on the screen, the lowest PDF creation settings will resample all of your carefully scanned images down to 72 dpi.

A Quick Word About "Word"

Microsoft Word is a word processing program, not a professional layout program. Text can be supplied in Word format if we are designing your job here. We can certainly convert your Word file into PDF for printing, but we will have to supply a proof to you in order to check there has been no automatic adjustments or font substitutions made during that process. There will be additional charges if we have to fix your Word document before printing. If your job is any size other than 8.5" x 11", please adjust your page size to your finished size in Word before starting - enlarging Word files does not work well.

Charts, graphs and spreadsheets supplied in Excel format may have to be saved as PDFs in order to print. Providing you used high quality images where necessary, things should turn out ok.

If you have any questions about saving files for print, don't hesitate to contact us.