Starting a new design project can be a piece of cake, especially when your creative juices are flowing and ideas seem to pour right out of you. Before you know it, your design is completed and you’re ready to get it produced. But now, you find yourself wading through format issues, file sizes, artwork requirements and new terminology. You’re on unfamiliar ground and not exactly sure how to take the next step. With so many paths in front of you, what’s the best direction to go in?

Stacy Gerado, Print Production & Graphics Manager of Chameleon Creative Group shares some insider’s tips to help point you in the right direction.

Color Profile

Is your image going to be produced in multiple colors? CMYK ensures the best color output especially if using a 4-color printing process. RGB is best for websites, apps, presentations and anything that will be viewed on a screen. Pantone helps to ensure your colors are consistent if printed on different types of surfaces. In other words, a green color used on your coffee mug, thank you note, and t-shirt will look the same.

CMYK Color Model

Image from:  Getting it Printed by Eric Kenly, M.S. & Mark Beach, Ph.D.


Should you choose coated or uncoated paper? UV coated, matte, or glossy? There are many types of paper coatings and textures to choose from. For example, coated paper is paper that has been buffed, in the process of producing the paper, to either have a gloss or matte finish. Uncoated paper has not undergone this step so it has a more textured feel. UV coating is applied to paper after it is printed and is not always necessary. Usually UV coatings are glossy, however there are some that have a silk or matte finish. UV can be very important for protecting self-mailers from getting beaten up by postal equipment because it increases the durability of the paper and resists smudging when handled or going through the mail. UV coatings are a good choice for postcards, brochures, business cards and presentation reports when you’re looking for a glossy, dramatic look. The high gloss makes details pop out and is perfect for photo images and company logos. Keep in mind however, that the type of paper coating you choose may also influence the color output because of the way paper may react to coatings and ink.


Make sure all of your images are at least 300 dpi (dots-per-inch). For best print results, 300 dpi is recommended. If your images are at a lower resolution, they may print blurry and pixelated.

Examples of low resolution

Image from:  Getting it Printed by Eric Kenly, M.S. & Mark Beach, Ph.D.


Your project needs bleed if the print extends to the edge of your project or page with no white border. If images or colors need bleed, be sure to include 1/8″ bleed on all sides. For example, a full-bleed business card would be 2.25″ x 3.75″. Also be cautious of the trim line on any project involving cutting. Make sure any text or other item you don’t want to have cut is at least 1/8″ in from the trim line.

Example of 1/8 inch bleed

Image from:  Getting it Printed by Eric Kenly, M.S. & Mark Beach, Ph.D.


For best results, send your file as a print-ready PDF (Portable Document File). Adobe PDFs are a universal file format that can be viewed on virtually every computer. PDF is an ideal format for print documents because they show an accurate representation of your project regardless of fonts or software that might or might not be installed on the viewer’s computer. You can usually convert your file into a PDF format by looking for something that says, “Save As” or “Export As” and choosing the file type to “PDF.” It is also a good idea to have all fonts set to outlines which keeps fonts from being replaced when the file is opened.

S I z e   MaTTers

Make sure your file is sized correctly for output. For example, if your final project will be printed on an 8″x10″ sized paper, you’ll want to make sure your file is sized that way. If you are not sure if your file is the correct size, just ask. We are happy to help.


Will your project need binding or need to be folded? Communicate your needs with your printing service to see which choice of binding or folding options would be best for your particular project. It is important to communicate where folds occur and what side will be bound. Select your options based on the function of your document, the number of pages it contains and your budget.

Image from:  Getting it Printed by Eric Kenly, M.S. & Mark Beach, Ph.D.


With so many considerations to take into account and so many directions your final project can go in, it’s important to maintain communication with your printing service. At Chameleon Creative Group, we are here to answer your questions and help you on your way to fulfilling your final project so that it doesn’t just meet your expectations, but exceeds it. With a wealth of knowledge and experience behind us, we can steer you in a direction that will maximize your budget dollars and help make your design experience a stand out success!

We also recommend: Getting it Printed by Eric Kenly, M.S. & Mark Beach, Ph.D.