Print-Ready is a term used to describe a file that has all the specifications necessary to produce high-resolution printed output, without requiring any additional alteration or intervention.
In other words, a commercial printer can use the file “as submitted” to successfully create the desired print materials.
Common factors that prevent a layout file from being Print-Ready include…
a) Document sized improperly.
b) Colors set to RGB instead of CMYK.
c) Spot colors not properly defined.
d) Not allowing ample margins (putting information or borders closer than 1/4” from any trimmed edge).
e) Resolution not high enough (should be minimum 300 dpi at 100% size).
f) Bleeds not set up correctly (artwork should extend at least 1/8” past crop marks).
g) Crop marks missing or incorrectly placed.
h) Missing fonts or images.
i) Poor contrast between text and background.
j) Spelling and grammar errors.
The File Type is also Important…
The type of file you submit is also an important factor in determining whether a commercial printer can successfully print your layout. For example, high-resolution Adobe PDF files are universally accepted (and preferred) by commercial printers. Layout files created with other Adobe products – such as InDesign, Illustrator or PhotoShop – also have widespread acceptance, as do QuarkXpress files. EPS and TIF files are also usually good formats for commercial printing.
Conversely, files created with Microsoft programs – such as Word, Publisher or PowerPoint – often require some intervention and conversion to make them Print-Ready. The same holds true for many other popular software programs, especially “non-professional” versions of desktop publishing packages. The file may output to your desktop printer just fine, but these types of software are rarely well-suited for output on a commercial printing press. When in doubt, check with your printer about acceptable file types beforehand.