Challenges for Designers and Tips for File Creation and Submission


Graphic designers work across all media, however the requirements for print and online are totally different.  

Working as standard in RGB mode, you have the maximum colour gamut, can use low-resolution images and everything still looks great! Ink on paper is more restricted. The overriding principle is that you want to know what the image will look like before it is printed. Onscreen, you are adding different colours of light (Red, Green and Blue) together; things get brighter, but you can tone them down. On the page you are adding different colours of pigment (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (blacK)) together; things get darker and stay that way. The simple fact is that there are bright, vibrant colours achievable on the computer screen that are not reproducible on paper.

As a designer, the first decision is based on the eventual use of the artwork.  Paper-based work is best served by using CMYK mode in your design software. You will only have colours available to you that you can actually print out of four-colour process.  If you do still wish to work with RGB Healeys can advise the correct settings for all major design software.

Tips to optimise files and ensure the quickest turnaround from file submission to printing and the best end result:


  • Your screen has a lot lower resolution than what you print.
  • Screen, 72 dpi (dots per inch) vs. offset printing, usually 300 dpi minimum.
  • A 21” diagonal screen displays the same amount of picture as a 5” diagonal printed piece.
  • Simply “blowing up” a low resolution screen image to paper gives very poor images.
  • If you know the number of pixels high and wide an image is, divide each by 300. Print it as that many inches, or less.
  • Beware almost vertical or almost horizontal lines – these can produce a jagged “step” effect. Create a higher resolution image if you can.
  • The resolution of vector graphics (Illustrator) is not a problem because they are redrawn with full detail each time they are scaled and rendered.
  • Images shrink from screen to paper. Small text or intricate images will print with a quarter as high as on the screen so think will yours still be legible?



  • The edges of your print are important. Slight variances in processes mean the paper might not be cut exactly square or on the cutline.
  • If your image has a background or design that goes to the edge of the sheet, extend it 3mm past the cutline. This is called bleed.
  • A magazine or poster, where printing is right to the paper edge bleed is also required. It eliminates a possible white border and should also extend by 3mm.


Font Problems

  • When using older software, text creates special problems when moving from the screen to paper, depending on the font used.
  • Using Adobe Open Type Fonts should keep everything looking good.
  • Converting text to outlines removes the need for fonts but means that anything other than basic amends has to be done by you.
  • When sending open artwork fils, don’t forget to include fonts with the transfer.


File Formats

  • If you are submitting any files other than PDFs, send a PDF proof file as a reference.
  • Compress the files before sending them electronically. For PC use ZIP. For Mac OS use File – Create Archive menu in the Finder.
  • Something as simple as using standard three character file extensions to eliminate ambiguity can save a lot of trouble and delay.
  • Healeys can advise on what file types are acceptable


Paper Type

  • Paper type also has to be considered when creating artwork.
  • Ink reacts very differently on coated and uncoated paper.
  • Dot gain measures this change in size of a printed dot as it is printed – so different colour profiles must be used to compensate for this.  Healeys will provide plugin profiles for different stocks.


Submitting Your File(s)

Healeys can accept files in a number of ways:

  • Burn the file to DVD send it in the post, drop it off or we can collect it.
  • Email is acceptable for files under our 10MB limit.
  • You may wish to use Dropbox or Mailbigfile or any of the other free file transfers sites.
  • Regular users will be offered a dedicated login to our secure FTP site.  Please ask your contact for more information about this.


Don’t forget:

  • Send all files needed, including fonts and links.
  • Make a backup of your files in case the transfer fails.
  • Liaise with our production team to understand and agree when files are needed to meet any deadlines


Print Appreciation Courses

Healeys run regular courses on site in Ipswich and across the country where industry professionals can learn and discuss the nuances of print production.  One of the most popular courses is the concentrating on file creation and submission targeted at graphic designers.

For more information about our courses, for Healeys optimised plugins, or indeed to discuss your next project please contact [email protected]

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  • Accepted file types: eps, ai, psd, pdf, jpg, png.