Digital File Preparation

Ralston Press, Inc.


MARGINS – Maintaining at least a 3/16” margin on ALL sides is recommended.

BLEEDS – A bleed is where an ink color runs off the edge of the paper. On some products bleeds can cost extra. Different products can require different bleed amounts. Not preparing bleeds properly can require re-designs. CALL FOR DETAILS.

LAYOUT – Design your piece to its finished size unless you have bleeds. If you have a 4 x 6 card, set your page layout to 4 x 6. Do not attempt to arrange multiples on a sheet.

COLOR – Always use CMYK coloring rather than RGB. Many programs have clipart that is RGB colored and may need special attention.

FONTS – When sending us files, please attach any fonts used in a separate file folder. You cannot attach (as an email attachment) fonts from your c://windows/fonts directory. Create a fonts folder in your working directory and copy of the fonts from your c://windows/fonts folder to your newly created fonts folder.

MULTI-PAGE DOCUMENTS – You need only set out your document with the proper margins and page numbers (if applicable) and let us do the rest. We will put the appropriate pages together (Example: in a 40-page document, we would put page 40 with page 1, page 39 with page 2, etc.). To avoid extra charges, allow us to prep your files.

Avoid using web graphics or photos for your publication. Not only are most of these graphics set to the minimum 72 dpi for quick webpage loading, most web graphics have copyrights making them ILLEGAL for personal use.


The following minimum resolutions should apply to all graphics included in your publication:

Grayscale Photos: 200 dpi
Full Color Photos: 300 dpi
Black and White Line Art Scans: 1200 dpi

*Please note that changing a 72 dpi to a 200 dpi inside a photo editing program will NOT improve its quality.


With the cost of full-color production at all-time lows, you can now turn a rather plain printed piece into an eye-catching work of art.

*Remember that full color photos or graphics should be set to CMYK and NOT to RGB.

Depending upon the quantity, a two color piece may be a more cost-effective way to achieve a similar result. Talk to one of our professionals and we can help you make a decision that is right for your pocketbook.


Many software applications come with built-in PDF creation software. There are several issues to address when using these. The first thing you must realize is that most run-of-the-mill applications assume that you are going to publish your PDF to the web or for personal distribution. These PDFs are not meant for print publication. They will, by default, produce a 72 dpi photo resolution even though you have a 300 dpi photo in your publication.

Therefore, when creating your PDF, be sure that you have changed your options to “press,” “print,” or another higher quality setting. Always check your PDF when done to make sure that you have the right settings.

As a final check, you can zoom in on photos and type to make sure that the PDF is as crystal clear as your original. For a more accurate check, you can look under “document properties/document meta-data” and “document properties/fonts” to make sure all is well and that your fonts are all there.

This is by no means a fully detailed description of PDF creation. If you are in doubt, it may be simpler to package all your files, fonts, photos, etc. and let our experts do the rest.