provides this Design Guide to assist customers in creating art files correctly for full color printing. Correct file preparation following these guidelines will help ensure the very best results for your printed product. Always carefully proofread and check your art files before uploading. Print It Fast Online provides Product Templates for most of our products. Using a Product Template will help you create your art file to the correct dimensions. Consult the Print It Fast Online Articles page for informative articles to help you create your printing designs with maximum impact.

File Preparation

  • PRINT READY PDF is recommended for best results
  • Minimum Resolution of 300 dpi
  • CMYK Color Mode
  • All FONTS should be converted to OUTLINES and EMBEDDED
  • Add CROP MARKS to specify Trim Area (Do not place crop marks inside work area)
  • Artwork should have 1/8" (0.125") BLEED from Trim Line
  • Information Content (Safe Area) should be 3/16" (0.1875") inside Trim Line
Business card product template showing crop mark placement, bleed, trim line and safe area.

Although we recommend and prefer Print Ready PDF files, Print It Fast Online also accepts the following file formats: EPS, JPG, JPEG, TIF, TIFF. It is still essential that you follow the guidelines concerning fonts, color mode, crop marks, resolution, bleed and content safe area no matter which file format you use.

If your art file has been created in a format not listed, you must convert it to an accepted format. Examples of file formats that require conversion include Microsoft Publisher, CorrelDraw, and Microsoft Word. Print It Fast Online is not responsible for how you convert these unsupported file types. Please carefully check the final .PDF file BEFORE submission. We are dedicated to providing high quality, low prices and quick delivery of all full color printed products in our store. However, if your printed job comes out incorrectly due to problems stemming from a badly converted file, Print It Fast Online will not be responsible.


We require a minimum of 1/8" (0.125") bleed on all projects. This will add 1/4" to your overall image area on both dimensions. This example shows how the bleed should be added for a 3.5" x 2" standard business card with image all the way to the edge. The bleed size is 3.75" x 2.25".

Sample business card artwork showing bleed size is 3.75 inches by 2.25 inches. Printed business card is 3.5 inches by 2.0 inches.

In commercial 4-color printing, all final jobs are cut in stacks. The accuracy of cutting in stacks is never perfect. Sometimes the pressure on the stack from the cutting blade will cause a slight shift of the paper. Bleed is necessary to compensate for the shifting. If bleed is not added, the final result of a trimmed job may result in a slight white border around the edge.


Due to the possibility of paper shift during cutting, Print It Fast Online does not recommend using borders on any file. We cut through many sheets at a time, so borders can easily be cut through or look uneven. If a border is used, Print It Fast Online is not responsible for cut or uneven borders.

Safe Area

For any document size, make sure all critical elements of your design, such as text and logos rest 3/16" (0.1875") INSIDE the TRIM LINE. Important content should NOT be placed OUTSIDE of or FLUSH with the SAFE AREA LINE.

The business card example below shows why important content must be placed INSIDE the SAFE AREA.

Sample business card artwork showing text placed outside the safe area being cut off.

In the example above, the type has been placed OUTSIDE the SAFE AREA LINE, which has resulted in it being cut off.

In the example below, the type has been placed FLUSH with the SAFE AREA LINE. Although the type has not been cut off, due to cutting tolerances, there is the possibility that the text will be right against the edge of the card. To avoid this, all text and graphics should be placed well INSIDE the SAFE AREA LINE.

Sample business card artwork showing text placed outside the safe area being cut off.

Crop Marks

Crop marks indicating Trim Area should be added to all documents. Do not place crop marks inside work area.

Color Mode and Resolution

All art files should be a minimum of 300 dpi resolution and in CMYK color mode. For 1-Color Process, files need to be Grayscale or Bitmap. If your art files are in RGB mode, you must convert them to CMYK prior to submission. Print It Fast Online will not be responsible for color shifts if files are submitted in RGB mode.


All FONTS should be converted to OUTLINE and EMBEDDED. Failure to do this may result in font substitution (fonts not printing as you expect). Print It Fast Online will not be responsible for incorrect fonts for files submitted with fonts not converted and embedded correctly.

File Setup for Proper Rotation (for 2-sided products)

Print It Fast Online requires Print Ready files with proper rotation. Files submitted are printed HEAD to HEAD as-is based off your files. Make sure to set up your files so that when we print them HEAD to HEAD the final product will read the way you would like. Front and back files need to be set up either both sides vertically or both sides horizontally. For files not properly set up, Print It Fast Online will use best judgment and will not be responsible for improper rotation.

Transparency Issues

Any transparency issues should be resolved before saving your file. To prevent a problem, never use shadows, glows, or any other transparency (image or otherwise) on top of a spot color. Always convert your spot color to CMYK and flatten before sending. All of these effects will cause transparency problems.

Additional File or Proofs

When sending artwork, DO NOT send extra files, like proofs or samples, because they might get printed. Only send the files you need printed. We are not responsible for these kinds of files being printed. Unless requested by one of our employees, DO NOT send files that you do not want printed.


Primarily used to intentionally overlap inks for a number of reasons, overprint can cause unexpected results. We suggest that you turn all overprint objects off before submitting your files. Unexpected results may occur if you have accidentally set certain objects to overprint. Always check logos and other artwork before submitting.

File Submission for 2-sided Products

We are specifically set up to process one side at a time. This requires that EACH SIDE of a job must be a SEPARATE FILE. Not separating files will cause delays and you might have to send the files again. Remember to separate the pages of your .PDF files as well.

Exporting a .PDF file

When exporting from any program such as InDesign or Illustrator, use these settings to make sure your .PDF files export correctly. Export settings for .PDF files. Adobe PDF Preset is set to: Press Quality Preset. Compatibility is set to: Acrobat 7 (PDF 1.3) Compatibility. Compress Text and Line Art is set to: Off Compress.

Grayscale Images

Grayscale images that are converted to CMYK will have a color shift in the final print. That shift may be green or yellow. Always check the CMYK values of your grayscale in the final CMYK document. If there are other values other then K in your grayscale image, there is a chance that the color will vary.

Rich Black

Rich black is an ink mixture of solid black, 100% K, with additional CMY ink values. This results in a darker tone than black ink alone. If you print black alone as 100% K, the resulting black may not be as dark as you might like. We recommend using C 60 M 40 Y 40 K 100. This will give you a deep, dark, rich black.


Many things can cause banding. Banding can be caused by the program that it is exported from, such as InDesign or Corel. Also, too many gradient steps, for example going from a very light color to a dark color, in a small area will cause banding. To prevent this, check your digital files before sending. If you use a gradient, make sure it has enough room for a smooth transition.

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