Setting up Your Files and Printing Preparation With Allegra

We know that getting your files set up for printing can often be a challenging process. This guide will serve as a starting point for your next project with us.

Every project is different and will require a unique setup – a business card will need to be set up differently than a banner, for instance. But regardless of what product you’re ordering from us, there are some basic guidelines that apply across the board. We’ve also included some printing tips and terms to help you with your ordering!

Basic File Preparation Tips for All Files

No matter what you’re going to be working on with your Allegra team, there are a few things to keep in mind, including:

High Resolution Images

All files and images should have a minimum of 300 Dots Per Inch (DPI) at the size you want them in your document to print sharp, high-quality images. It is not recommended to place small images at enlarged sizes. This practice will help to avoid pixelated text or images in your design.


Know ahead of time if you want “full bleed” or “no bleed” printing. Full bleed means that your design will print to the very edge of the paper, extending beyond the trim edge and leaving no white margin. A document with a bleed is printed on a larger sheet of paper and trimmed down. Extend any color or images outside the document edges by 1/8” (0.125). No bleed means there is a white border around your design, so your file size can be the exact proportions of the piece you’re having printed.

File Size

Your file should be sized proportionally to the print size to avoid stretching on your graphics or text. For example, if you want a 4”x 6” postcard printed with full bleed, the file size should be 4.25”x 6.25” with the bleed included.


Your project may require your file to be in grayscale, CMYK or color matching. CMYK is the color mode intended for printing with ink, while RGB is the color mode intended for screen displays and is often the default mode in software. RGB mode colors aren’t achievable with four-color process printing. Most projects are going to be best designed in CMYK mode from the start, but check with your local Center to confirm details.

Black vs. Rich Black

When printing with black color, there are two kinds of black. There’s black – 100K, used for type and barcodes in your design, and Rich Black – 60C 40M 40Y 100K, used for larger blocks of solid black in your graphics. Using rich black eliminates the problem of a black appearing as a faded grey.


Make sure any and all text appearing in your design has been proofread and spell-checked for any potential grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. We also recommend you use a font that is easy to read. Contact your local Allegra if you need font recommendations for your specific project.

What Other Factors Should I Consider for Printing File Preparation?

Depending on the exact nature of your project, there are several other things you’ll want to keep in mind. If you’re unsure about any of the following, ask your local Allegra team for more details or additional guidance!

  • Vector/Raster: Certain projects may require vector files, while raster may be acceptable in others.
  • Crop marks: These are usually needed for files with bleeds. If your design is being cropped, you may be required to include crop marks for the Allegra team.
  • File formats: Your local Allegra may ask you to send files as .pdf, .eps, .ai, .psd, .indd or other formats. Typically .pdf files are going to be the most common, but familiarizing yourself with other file types is beneficial, too!
  • Pagination: Multi-page documents being submitted for projects like brochures, books or manuals may need to be sent in single-page format and in page number order, or as a series of spreads. Contact your local Allegra team for specifics before sending in any multi-page document.

What Types of Projects Will I Need to Set Up for Printing?

  • Marketing collateral: Files that will be printed, such as brochures, flyers, posters, or business cards, often require crops and bleeds. These files should include the necessary trim marks and bleed areas to ensure proper printing and finishing. 
  • Magazines and catalogs: Publications with multiple pages may require crops and bleeds to accommodate designs that span across adjacent pages. This ensures that there are no white borders or gaps when the pages are trimmed and bound.
  • Large format graphics: Files for large format printing, such as banners, signs, or billboards, often need crops and bleeds. These graphics may require additional bleed areas to account for trimming and finishing processes.
  • Packaging and labels: Designs for packaging boxes, product labels, or packaging sleeves often require crops and bleeds to ensure accurate and precise cutting during the manufacturing process. Bleed areas are necessary to prevent any white edges or borders from appearing on the final printed packaging.

If you ever have any questions about setting up your project files, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Allegra for more information or guidance. And when you’re ready to get started on your next project, contact us to set up a free consultation!

Preparing your file for professional printing can be a daunting task. We’ll make every effort to work with you to assure that the quality of your project meets your expectations. Here are our recommendations to assure the best results. Look for software-specific instructions at the bottom of the page.

Color Mode and Image Resolution

All images and print files should be submitted in CMYK or Pantone color mode. Recommended image resolution for offset and digital print is 300 dpi at final size. Recommended image resolution for wide format print is 150 dpi at final size.

Bleeds and Safe Area

A bleed will allow objects, such as pictures, to go beyond the defined borders of a printed page. You can use it when you want to avoid white margins for certain objects in your publication.
Bleed: 1/8" all sides
Safe Area (Shown in Magenta): Allow a minimum safe area (margin) of 1/8"

print file preparation


Use the templates below to ensure proper, speedy, accurate production of your print job.

Horizontal Vertical
Postcard Design

Common File Formats

PDF – Prepared for print in CMYK or Pantone mode with bleeds included.
Adobe InDesign – Package for print provider or include all images and fonts.
Photoshop – .psd file with layers and fonts included. Our ability to alter or correct flat image files is limited.
Adobe Illustrator – Vector files in .ai, eps or .pdf, formats are recommended. For best results, submit files at final size with fonts converted to outlines. Embedded raster images should be in CMYK or Pantone color mode and 300 dpi at final size. For best results, convert fonts to outlines in vector images.
Microsoft Publisher – Provide a pdf file and Pack and Go Save for Commercial Printer.
Microsoft Word and PowerPoint – These files are not recommended for professional printing. Convert files to pdf.


Multi-page documents (books, manuals, booklets) should be submitted in single page format and in page number order.


Always check your proof after changes have been made. Allegra provides .pdf proofs for every project for your approval. PDF proofs may vary in color from monitor to monitor unless color calibration is applied. Hard copy proofs are available upon request.

Software Specific Instructions


How to save a hi-res PDF with bleed.


How to package your file.

How to set up spot colors.

How to create and export bleeds.


How to add bleed and crop marks.


How to create bleeds and crop marks and save as hi-res pdf.


How to create a pdf file out of Microsoft Word.


How to create a pdf file out of Microsoft Excel.


How to create a print-ready file with Canva

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