Printing & Finishing
Technical Guidelines & Requirements

Creating Your Artwork

We have a wide array of printing options to help you create your artwork. With an assortment of paper and multiple add on services we offer many choices for you and your customer. Here are a few things to consider first before you start your order.

Files must be setup according to stated specifications. You are fully responsible for following such guidelines which include file types, bleed setup, art resolution, all fonts being outlined, orientation and color usage. When starting on your artwork please be aware that we have templates readily available on our website to help you create your artwork. This will give you the exact dimensions and guides to help you with your project. If one is available to you at the size you require we highly recommend using it (if you do not see a template for the size you require please contact us for the requirements at 1-404-534-2620 or info@spectrumdelivers.com).

When designing artwork refer to our website for what sizes and paper stock are available. When choosing paper stock, please remember that certain add-on services may not be available as well as certain quantities. If you do not see a size that fits your project we have a custom cut feature on our calculators that allow you to change the dimensions at 1/4" increments.

Look over the time frame when designing and creating artwork to allow yourself an ample amount of time during production. Our time frame given on our calculator is an estimate on how long your project will take. Problems with your artwork, add on services, and unforeseen issues (courier delays, weather conditions, etc) will always add to the production time and we recommend giving yourself a few days to cushion the deadline on any project. In addition if you place several jobs in the same order it will always wait for the latest order before it ships (Example: if you have a presentation folder which takes 7 to 9 business days and a business card order that takes 2 to 4 business days the ship by date will be determined by the presentation folders).

For optimal results, use clear sharp photographs. Do not increase the physical size of your image before uploading it. This will degrade the quality of the image and make it fuzzy. Try to upload an image that you can reduce in size as this will result in a much sharper image the majority of the time.

Why won't my photo upload?

Your photo may not upload for the following reasons:

The file format is incorrect. The formats allowed for Spectrum Delivers, LLC products are .JPG, .JPEG, .TIF, and .BMP.

The image size is too large or too small.

The file size is too large. Files must be 14MB or smaller.

You do not have *Flash Player version 7 or later installed on your computer, which is needed to upload and edit your photograph.

*Get the Flash Player

Understanding the Gang Run Printing Process**

The printing process in which multiple print jobs are produced on a common print sheet is referred to a gang run. Understanding the positive aspects as well as production limitations as a print broker will help to set you and your customer's expectation.

Positive aspects of the gang run printing process: It saves your customer a considerable amount of money. Many cost factors are shared on the sheet to reduce the overall cost per job.

Environmentally more friendly:

Ganging jobs together uses paper more efficiently by filling up the sheet and thus reducing paper waste. This driven by economics since the more that is squeezed out of a sheet, the lower the cost.

Limitations of the gang run process

Color: This is by far the biggest limitation with gang run printing. It is difficult to maintain control of color because there are many jobs on one sheet. Therefore it is impossible for any printer using a gang run process to be able to guarantee color output. This cannot be emphasized enough.  

Quality of output

 Since there are many jobs on a sheet, it’s difficult to maintain a certain output quality. Solid colors have the potential to show streaks or ink coverage may be oversaturated. Most of these issues can be avoided with a good understanding on file setup for gang run jobs. There is typically a lower selection of paper and coating options. Our printing process has recently overcome these limitations and offers a wide array of paper and coating options.

What should I know about Color Printing and Proofs

Soft proofing is often used by both designers and prepress operators to make color critical decisions on the monitor. Computer monitors use the RGB (additive) model to display colors. In order to display correctly, a captured image is translated into pixels (picture elements) that can be projected as rays of red, green, and blue light. Digital presses use the CMYK (subtractive) model to produce colors. Cyan, magenta, and yellow dry ink is placed on white reflective paper. Each then absorbs, or subtracts, its opposite color from the white light that it reflects back. Black (K) is primarily used to change the color's luminosity value (lightness or darkness).

As a result, you will see differences in color from one monitor to another and differences in color from the monitor to the printed output, due to the different the different mediums used for viewing a job (monitor v. ink on paper). The accuracy of color depends upon your specific monitor. We've made every effort to represent images of products accurately. Due to the wide range of computer monitors and color displays, you should consider the colors you see on your screen to be representational.

What browsers are required for ordering from Spectrum Delivers, LLC?

To place an order with Spectrum Delivers, LLC, your web browser should be a version 3.0 or higher. Our site is optimized to work with both Internet Explorer and Mozilla. In addition to a new browser version, ordering online requires certain browser features to be enabled. You must be enabled to accept cookies because we use cookies to hold information about your order. JavaScript must also be enabled in your browser for you to access functions necessary to place your order. We also suggest that you set your browser to check for newer versions of stored pages with each visit to the page.

Is the Spectrum Delivers, LLC site secure?

Spectrum Delivers, LLC protects our customers and their information with secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology, the highest level of security available on the Internet.

SSL is supported by most current browsers. It encrypts information being transmitted via the internet to maintain the privacy and integrity of the messages.

The standard 40-bit or 56-bit encryption supported by Internet explorer 5.0 browser is Spectrum Delivers, LLC's minimum requirement for transactions. Customers using a different browser should refer to the documentation on security features specific to that browser.

Original custom graphic designs are designated as a “work for hire” produced for the sole purpose of printing ONLY or as outlined in the original invoice or price quote.  Electronic versions of the finished “work for hire” files are available for $75.00 per project in .jpg, .pdf, .tif or .eps formats.  Master files can be purchased with the consequent release of SDLLC intellectual rights by contacting us in writing at info@spectrumdelivers.com for pricing of each individual project.

The positive aspects of gang run printing definitely outweigh the limitations and this is illustrated by the large growth of the gang run industry as well as the growing amount of brokers that resell gang run jobs.

File Preparation

Format Options

Illustrator Format:

Adobe Illustrator (please downsave to CS3). Make sure to flatten all transparencies in your document (See Transparencies for more information). All text must be converted to outline before submitting your artwork.

EPS Format:

Make sure to flatten all transparencies in your document (See Transparencies for more information). All text must be converted to outline before submitting your artwork.

Adobe Photoshop Format:

Please flatten all files before submitting at a minimum of 300 DPI and maximum of 1200 DPI with line art (except for banners which are all at 100 DPI). See Banner Requirement for more information.

PDF Format:

This method is preferred since it’s the industry standard to work with. Acrobat 4 or version 1.3 is recommended since it works to prevent transparency issues. All transparencies should be flattened before hand to further prevent any errors during printing (See Transparencies for more information). Also set the quality to press quality. Certain fonts may not work well with PDF formats such as CID fonts so we do require all fonts to be outlined or the file flattened before you convert to a PDF.

JPEG:

Make sure that you have a minimum of 300 DPI and a maximum of 1200 DPI with line art (except for banners which are all at 100 DPI. See Banner Requirement for more information.) When using a jpeg format please be aware that a slight quality difference may occur due to the compression it uses.

TIFF:

Make sure that you have a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 1200 DPI with line art (except for banners which are all at 100 DPI).  **TIF files are larger, but allow you to stay in a CMYK work environment and usually allows for better color reproduction when printing. (See Banner Requirement for more information).

Multiple Files on a Single Document

The only time you may submit a multi-page document is on booklet orders (See Booklet Setup for more information). All other artwork must be separated (Example: A 4/4 14 pt business card with spot UV would have a total of 4 files. Front, Back, UV Mask Front, UV Mask Back). If your order requires a front, back, and a UV mask you must submit a separate file for each.

Image Resolution

File Sizing

You should not have more canvas size than required. The size of the final piece prior to cutting or folding should be the same as the document size listed under IMAGE SIZE in the application program. For example, a 4" x 6" postcard should be set up on a 4" x 6" page not 8.5" x 11". The resolution should be set at 300 DPI (ppi) minimum.

Document preparation

Front and Back of document should be setup as two separate pages, do not create both sides in a single file.  Please download the appropriate template from the product section if you have any questions regarding file size and setup.

For the highest quality output

All images should be edited, rotated, cropped and sized in an imaging software application such as Adobe Photoshop. Do not resize, crop, rotate or adjust images in page layout applications if possible. Place images into the page layout at 100%.

The recommended image resolution should be no less than 300dpi at the actual finished size. Scale images with bicubic sampling and crop all images in Photoshop. Do not use page layout applications such as QuarkXPress, or InDesign to make image size adjustments. Submitting images with higher than needed resolution adds unnecessary processing time, creates larger files and may degrade image quality.

Do not include transfer functions or screen angles unless directed to do so by Spectrum Delivers. If the job requires specific screen angles or transfer functions, make sure to consult with Spectrum Delivers to create the best results.

Dimensions

The only exception to this is on Booklets and Banners (please see Booklet Requirements and/or Banners Requirements for more information)

Be Aware of Trim and Bleed

Your dimensions should be the exact trim size plus a .125” bleed on each dimension (Example:  2” x 3.5” business card will be 2.25" x 3.75").  Even if a file has no bleed with white edges you MUST allow a .25 inch border containing no live area (mission critical text and graphics) MUST be allowed for cutting.

Two very important things you want to AVOID:

A white border around the edge of your image.  Cutting off any important areas of you image.

Fonts

All type (fonts) MUST be converted to outlines (paths).

If a template is available on our website we highly recommend using it to create your artwork. Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Safe Area

The safe area is exactly 1/8" inside of the trim area. This safe area is for important text and artwork since the trim may shift during the trimming phase of production.

If a template is available on our website we highly recommend using it to create your artwork. Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Orientation

We do a standard head to head process and we require all artwork to be print ready before submitting. If you have any question on orientation please feel free to contact customer service at 1-404-534-2620 or info@spectrumdelivers.com.

Transparencies

Avoid using glows, shadow effects, and transparent objects unless they are flattened or rasterized at 300 to 1200 DPI. These transparencies could cause unwanted effects on your artwork when sent to print.

Borders

We do accept borders on jobs but if a border is too close to the cut line it may be cut off center. Even though the machines are perfectly aligned to the paper a slight shift still may occur during the trim process.

Color

Due to an industry wide gang run limitation we do not guarantee color and a shift in color may occur.

Please make sure all files are in CMYK mode. We do not use any spot colors or Pantone colors and they must be converted to CMYK before uploading through our website. If you use RGB or any other mode aside from CMYK there will be a color shift. Please start and finish all artwork in CMYK mode.

Check your values carefully before submitting any artwork. Certain colors may look differently on your computer screen or personal printer (even printers that are in CMYK) compared to when its printed on our offset printers. We highly recommend using a process color guide to help you choose your colors to lessen the chance of a color shifting. Your print may also vary from printer to printer due to the press model, paper stock, and calibration. If you have any questions please feel free to contact customer service at 1-404-534-2620 or info@spectrumdelivers.com.

Should I use CMYK or RGB?

Each color space has a defined gamut - a range of possible colors. There is no single color space that can reproduce all the colors from the entire spectrum whether working in CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (which printers call "Key") or RGB - Red, Green, Blue.

CMYK color spaces typically have color gamuts that are slightly smaller than RGB spaces. That means fewer colors, and usually less vivid colors. The benefit, however, is that a color space such as SWOP CMYK has a color gamut that is achievable by almost all CMYK printing devices. This is helpful in terms of color consistency if jobs are to be printed across different print devices. Keeping to a CMYK color space for line art or vector art can also improve the match from image color to spot color (such as PANTONE) and preserving or editing the black channel is also possible when the color space is CMYK.

RGB color spaces are generally larger than CMYK spaces and able to reproduce more colors that are brighter and saturated in color. RGB color spaces are the preferred color space when jobs are sent to the printer. Keeping files in RGB allows for greater variety of output options, such as web, press or digital print. RGB also means smaller file sizes, which can increase productivity. Most print devices use CMYK inks, however, so at some point the RGB elements will be converted to CMYK. The print shop can generally do the conversion at the RIP just prior to printing, which generally yields the most pleasing results.

Sometimes it's possible to design artwork using CMYK colors to yield more precise matches and yet keep images in RGB spaces in order to retain more vivid color. RGB and CMYK elements can then be placed into page layout applications such as QuarkXPress or InDesign and then be output in such a way that none of the colors get converted until they should be, at the printer.

Setting-up Your Files in Adobe Photoshop CMYK: 

All scans should be converted to CMYK and b a minimum of 300 dpi. If you are creating your images in an RGB Colorspace use the following CMYK Setup so that the colors in your files convert correctly to our press specification:

Adobe Photoshop CMYK Settings: 

SWOP (Coated); Dot Gain: 20%; Separation Type: GCR; Black Generation: Medium; Black Ink Limit: 100%; Total Ink Limit: 300%; UCA Amount: 0%. 

Rich Black

Over saturation of black can lead to many complications on your order. It may cause the UV to not be applied well and cause your order to become splotchy due to improper drying. To prevent this we recommend using a printers black due to its low saturation but still offer a rich black.

Cyan: 40 Magenta 30 Yellow: 20 Black: 100

All solid Black areas should be composed as a combination of C 60%, M 60%, Y 60%, and K 100%.

Grayscale

If a grayscale image converts to CMYK a shift will occur in the final printed piece. Always check the values of your grayscale images on your final CMYK document. If you have any other color aside from black then a shift may occur.

If you have foiling with UV please keep the foil 1/8" from any UV. If UV is placed under any of the foiling it will tend to flake-off, so please check your artwork carefully. (See When Using Multiple Add-On Services for more information).

Overprint

Turn off overprint on your artwork. Overprint can cause unexpected results on the final product so please check carefully before submitting.

Add On Services

Multiple Services (Embossing, UV, Foiling)

We do not recommend using multiple services that puts too much stress on the paper. When combining two or three of these services certain imperfections may appear due to this stress. Foiling may flake, embossing may not show up as clear, and the UV may crack. Please be aware of this when creating your artwork.

Spot UV Requirements

When creating a UV mask you must create a separate file along with your regular artwork. This file must be 100% black (no other colors, gradients, or shading) and white. The black will represent where the UV mask will be, almost like a template over your artwork. Anywhere with white will not have a UV coating.

Paper stock of 14 pt will offer an option of having spot UV on two sides. If you wish to have UV on only one side please go ahead and upload a blank white file the exact dimensions of your front artwork. This will tell the production team that there is no UV on that particular side.

Foiling and Embossing Requirements

When creating a foil mask or embossing mask you must create a separate file along with your regular artwork. This file must be at 100% black (no other colors, gradients, or shading) and white. The black will represent where the foil or embossing will be placed almost like a template over your artwork. Anywhere white will not be foiled or embossed. Foiling and embossing is also done only on one side of the paper and cannot be done on both and is limited to certain paper stock.

All foiling and embossing is done "blind" meaning after the cut so it may shift up to a 1/8th of an inch. Please compensate for this on your artwork and keep art simple. Do not align artwork against or under the embossing or foiling due to this shift. All embossing and foiling must be within the safe area (please see Safe Area) and cannot bleed over the edges. Avoid using thin fonts and thin lines. Foiling and embossing is a delicate process and due to the limitations certain point sizes may not register (Recommended minimum 10pts or above depending on font).

Silk Lamination

Orders on silk lamination will tend to cause artwork to be slightly darker or greyer so we do advise orders placed on silk to be lightened (about 10% to 15%) before submitted. However, there is no guarantee that your colors will turn out correctly. Some color shift is to be expected due gang run limitations (See Color for more information),

Folding Requirements

All folds may come standard with our brochures and no custom folds are allowed. Please compensate for a shift that may occur during the folding process (up to a 1/8"). All artwork should be within the safe area between each panel that is folded (See Safe Area for more information). Artwork that is exactly lining up against these fold lines is not recommended due to this limitation. When creating something like a greeting card or folded business card remember to check the orientation before submitting. We highly recommend referring to our templates to see the orientation of each panel. (See Orientation for more information.)

For more complicated orders like vertical brochures and any custom orders that has a more complicated orientation we do ask that you call customer service at

Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Scoring Requirements

A score is a crease made in a sheet made of a heavy stock paper to eliminate cracking and to facilitate a straight and accurate fold. Please be aware that a slight shift in the score may happen during the scoring process (up to a 1/8"). Artwork that is exactly lining up against these score lines is not recommended due to this limitation.

You may have up to two scores done on any one product. The score cannot be in different directions and must run parallel to each other. There must also be a minimum of 1.5" distance between each score. When uploading artwork with a score do not put instructions on the artwork or they may get printed. Instead please send us a separate instructional file to info@spectrumdelivers.com. (See Samples & Instruction for more information.)

Perforation Requirements

A perforation is a series of small holes done to a sheet of paper so that a section can tear easily over a straight line. Please be aware that a slight shift in the perforation may happen during the perforation process (up to a 1/8"). Artwork that is exactly lining up against these score lines is not recommended due to this limitation. You may have one score done on any one product. When uploading artwork with a score do not put instructions on the artwork or they may get printed. Instead please send us a separate instructional file to info@spectrumdelivers.com (See Samples & Instruction for more information.)

Numbering Requirements

When using numbering please lighten a box over the area you wish to have numbered. The dimensions of the box should be .75” x 3/8'. If you have two sets of numbers leave at least a space of 2.25" between the two boxes.

If you have a spot UV on the side that has the numbering on it please leave a space so the numbering can be printed properly. For foiling or embossing leave at least 1/8" away from the numbering. (See Foiling and Embossing Requirement for more information.)

Samples & Instructions (Scoring, Numbering, Perforations)

Avoid sending proofs or samples along with artwork or within layers or it may get printed. If you wish to send us instructions on numbering, perforations, or scoring please send those files to info@spectrumdelivers.com.

To set up a perforation, scoring and/or numbering instruction you would send us a copy of the front artwork faded out by 50% then add a dashed line where you want the score or perforation to be. Please put in bold red over the dashed line PERF or SCORE. Where you wish to put the numbering place a white box with the number you want to start at. Include in the email the job number so we can reference your order and on the header type in SAMPLE INSTRUCTIONS.

Please be aware that the scoring and perforations may shift during this process up to 1/8".

Specialty Item Instructions

Booklets Requirements

For booklets we require you to have a multi-page PDF of all your pages. They must be paginated in single page spreads starting from the cover first and numerically down to the back cover. Booklets also must have a 1/8" bleed on all sides. Two page spread artwork (artwork that flows into two pages) is not recommended since the trim may shift up to a 1/16” of an inch.

Please see PDF under Format Options for more information on what we require.

Banners Requirements

Banners must be done at actual size. When submitting a rasterized image, please have it at 100 DPI. No bleed is required for banners.

Grommets will be applied standard on your banner on each corner and for larger banners in the middle.

This product is not custom and grommets will be added at our discretion.

Envelope Requirements

All envelopes must follow the template given on our website. We recommend not having envelopes that bleed past the fold lines since the fold may shift during the process up to a 1/8".

If you plan on having color on the flap please make sure you leave a slight space between the fold and the flap (about 1/32". However we do not recommend using these types of designs due to the shift that may happen).

Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Presentation Folder Requirements

All presentation folders must follow the template given on our website. All presentation folders will come with a business card slit on the right panel.

Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Event Ticket Requirements

All event tickets must following the template on our website. Please make sure to send us an instructional file if perforation and/or numbering are required. (See Foiling and Embossing Requirement for more information.)

Orientation is critical for a two sided event ticket especially if they have a perforation. We highly recommend that you double check the orientation with us before submitting at 1-404-534-2620 or email us at info@spectrumdelivers.com.  (See Orientation for more information).

Templates are available on our website. Please remove the template before submitting your artwork.

Printing Definitions

What is resolution?

Resolution determines the quality of your image. A high-resolution image is clear and shows more detail, so it will reproduce better on your Spectrum Delivers, LLC products. Image resolution is measured in pixels.

What is a pixel?

Pixels are tiny colored dots that make up photos and images. An image becomes sharper as you decrease its size. Your image must be at least 200 dpi (dots per inch) in order to be uploaded. (We recommend 300 dpi)

What are the file size requirements?

There are three size requirements for Spectrum Delivers, LLC products:

Files must be at least 3.5x2.

Files must be at least 200 dpi (dots per inch)

Files must be under 14MB in file size

What is trim?

Trim is the final dimensions of the paper once it has been cut. Trim marks indicate where the cut will be.

What is bleed?

Bleed is an image that goes to the edge of a piece of paper. Having a bleed prevents your image from reproducing with a white border.